Melania Trump’s spokeswoman has slammed “salacious” and “false reporting” as the media raised questions about a possible chill between the first couple in the wake of news about Donald Trump’s reported payoff to porn star Stormy Daniels.
“She is focused on her family and role as FLOTUS — not the unrealistic scenarios being peddled daily by the fake news,” spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham tweeted on Friday. She didn’t detail what those “scenarios” might be, but may have been referring to a report in the Daily Mail that Melania decamped to a D.C. hotel after the Daniels report.
The first lady had planned to accompany the president to support him during his appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Grisham had announced. She suddenly changed her plans due to “scheduling and logistical issues,” according to her spokeswoman. The announcement was made the evening of Jan. 22, the Trumps’ 13th wedding anniversary, though there was no mention of that nor any apparent celebration.
Cancellation of the trip followed news reports that Trump’s attorney, Michael Cohen, allegedly paid $130,000 to Daniels — whose real name is Stephanie Clifford — a month before the 2016 election to keep quiet about her alleged 2006 affair with Trump while his wife was caring for their newborn son, Barron. Cohen has denied the payment and Trump has denied the affair.
While Trump was in Davos, the first lady made a solo trip to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., on Thursday and tweeted three photos and a video of herself very much on her own with a museum guide. She then flew to West Palm Beach. As The New York Times headline for a Maureen Dowd column noted: “Trump Hits Alps, but Melania Is Frosty in Florida.”
Historian Kate Andersen Brower, an expert on America’s first ladies, told CNN that a first lady’s cancellation of such a major trip is unusual. Trump’s relationship with his wife has appeared a bit unusual from the start, she said. The two lived apart until she finally moved to the White House with Barron in June.
“We haven’t had a relationship this fraught since, I think, the Clintons, even going back and looking at someone like Eleanor Roosevelt or Jackie Kennedy, where there were lots of rumors surrounding their relationship,” she told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
Melania Trump also notably did not post a photo of her with her husband in a post marking his first year as president. She instead shared a picture of herself posed with a Marine and with an ear-to-ear grin, an expression Dowd notes the first lady rarely has while with her husband.
She reportedly returned to Washington on Friday night. The president tweeted a photo on Saturday of him with his wife to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The photo was taken May 2017 at Yad Vashem in Israel.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story indicated Melania Trump appeared with President Donald Trump on Saturday. In fact, a photo of the two that he tweeted Saturday was from an event last year.