In the months following her family’s chaotic White House exit, the former first lady spent her time with her family at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago and Bedminster clubs, occasionally performing at her husband’s side. Although the former president is widely viewed as out of political self-interest, his family members say his wife could influence his decision to return to the candidate’s strenuous and very public role.
“The only thing Trump cares about these days is golf and Melania. And if she doesn’t want him to run, it pushes a big rock up the hill, ”said a person close to Trump. “I don’t think politics is their thing. She doesn’t like the game. “
Ever since the Trumps began sliding down the escalator at Trump Tower to announce a run for 2016, Melania Trump has been a hard-to-read partner in her husband’s political maneuvers. She rarely appeared in election campaigns and, as first lady, stayed largely out of the public eye.
The perception created by her private nature – that she did not really approve of her husband’s behavior – was belied by the few occasions on which she appeared. On the way to an internment camp where young migrants were being held, she was known to wear an “I REALLY DON’T CARE” jacket. And it was secretly recorded by her former confidante Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who said in 2018, “Who doesn’t give a shit about the Christmas things and the decorations” in 2018.
The end of her husband’s tenure underscored her discomfort on the national political stage. According to her former chief of staff, Stephanie Grisham, Melania Trump slept part of the 2020 election night while her husband fretted over vote counting and network reporting while huddled with advisers in the White House.
“I knocked a few times, softly at first, but louder each time I tried,” Grisham wrote, according to new material from her upcoming book, “I’ll Take Your Questions Now: What I Saw at Trump White House.” “I finally opened the bedroom door and found that Melania Trump was sound asleep.”
Melania Trump and Grisham had been to former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club the night before. They’d got up late to prepare for election night, got up early to vote, and then flew back to Washington, DC. But Grisham was still surprised that she went to bed.
“I knew by now how much sleep meant for her, but still I couldn’t imagine sleeping at such a time,” she wrote. “Maybe she thought someone would wake her up if Trump wins.”
Melania Trump eventually woke up and stood on stage in the East Room with her husband at 2:30 am as he mistakenly said he had won the election and it was being stolen from him for fraud. A spokeswoman for Melania Trump did not comment on the new excerpts from the book. Another former White House adviser understood that the former first lady had “taken a nap” as the night was expected to be late.
On Monday morning, POLITICO Playbook published the first excerpt from Grisham’s book, in which Grisham Melania asked Trump to condemn the riots on Capitol Hill on January 6th when it began, but she refused with a single word reply: “No.”
In response, Melania Trump’s office issued a statement accusing Grisham of “making amends after poor performance as a press secretary, failed personal relationships and unprofessional behavior in the White House.”
Her mention of “failed personal relationships” struck many people in Trump World as offensive in light of Grisham’s two divorces and her previous relationship with former Trump adviser Max Miller, who is now running for Congress. Citing three people familiar with the incident, POLITICO Magazine reported in July that their relationship with Miller “ended when he pushed her against a wall in his Washington apartment and slapped her in the face after she accused him of cheating on her to have”. Müller denied the allegations.
It is unprecedented that former first ladies get into public battles with their former top aides who write all-encompassing books. And it’s all the more remarkable how calm Melania Trump was outside of the current dispute. The former first lady has not appeared in public or has used her celebrity to continue to speak out about her concerns in the east wing. A former White House official said she focused on her son and family.
“It has completely disappeared from the radar screen,” said a person close to Trump. “She wasn’t seen anywhere.”
Melania Trump’s stubbornness and withdrawal into private life stand in contrast to former former first ladies. In her first year after leaving the White House, Michelle Obama criticized the Trump administration for easing nutritional standards for school lunches and accused the Trump White House of spreading fear before writing a bestseller reminder. Laura Bush also entered the book industry after leaving the White House, while Hillary Clinton won a Senate election at the end of her husband’s second term and became the first person to be both senator and first lady for two weeks in early 2001 was.
The few moments that Melania Trump spoke out were largely limited to posting on social media. She went on Instagram and Twitter to celebrate the 9/11 anniversary and said she prayed “for the families and loved ones of the naval heroes killed in Kabul and for all who are suffering during this difficult time” and wishes the Americans Happy 4th of July.
And for the past few months she has been arguing with prominent presidential historian Michael Beschloss, saying that he “proved his ignorance by showing a picture of the rose garden in its infancy. … His misleading information is dishonorable and should never be trusted as a professional historian. ”In mid-July, she also tweeted a cautionary warning to people not to trust what they read about them. “How can people believe any of the books that talk about Mrs. Trump’s life? Stories about them are useless gossip, many of which are misleading and only some of the truth. Writers have no credibility. “
A former White House official said he wanted Melania Trump to work, for example, to convince Trump voters to get the coronavirus vaccine instead of engaging in fights with her.
“It saddens me that, since she still has a platform to do good as a former first lady,” said the former officer, “especially when she encourages people to get vaccinated, she should instead just complained about what people say about her. “