11 Times Melania & Donald Trump's Public Statements Weren't Exactly In Sync
Melania Trump has been a very quiet first lady so far — so when she speaks, her words tend to be heard with much interest. This effect is amplified, then, when Melania departs from Donald Trump's stance on a given issue. While it doesn't happen very often, the first lady has expressed positions counter to her husband's on several notable occasions — and other times, although she hasn't explicitly voiced an argument, people have interpreted messages of disagreement in Melania's actions.
The two were always a unique presidential pair. For one thing, she's taken great care to stay out of the spotlight in most cases. Many people have speculated that the first lady doesn't like her husband very much, citing, for example, the Washington Post report on Melania, in which a source said that the two "spend very little to no time together," or the video clips of Melania appearing to bat her husband's hand away. The first lady's spokesperson told the Washington Post that the family is closer than the public realizes, but this has not stopped things like the "Free Melania" jokes, which insinuate that the first lady is somehow imprisoned within her position.
Overall, then, the details of their personal relationship remain cloudy — but in a couple of instances, Melania has at least made it clear that she doesn't completely agree with her husband on certain issues. In fact, Melania has long cited their independent views as a strength of their relationship, stressing that they do not intend to change each other. While she's been overt about her apparent disagreement in some cases, others involve speculation and rumor.
1. LeBron James
The latest instance of an apparent split in opinion among the first couple came in response to President Trump insulting NBA star LeBron James' intelligence in a tweet after James gave an interview calling the president divisive on CNN. Melania's spokesperson then issued a statement to CNN on Saturday, Aug. 4, praising James and his work with children:
It looks like LeBron James is working to do good things on behalf of our next generation and just as she always has, the First Lady encourages everyone to have an open dialogue about issues facing children today. As you know, Mrs. Trump has traveled the country and world talking to children about their well-being, healthy living, and the importance of responsible online behavior with her Be Best initiative.
After all, Melania, who has made children the focus of her time as first lady with her "Be Best" campaign, has something in common with James. The superstar basketball player opened the public I Promise School in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, to serve children who might not otherwise have the best opportunities in life.
"[The first lady's] platform centers around visiting organizations, hospitals and schools, and she would be open to visiting the I Promise School in Akron," Melania's spokesperson told CNN.
2. Family Separations
After the news broke that a Trump administration policy had separated hundreds of migrant children from their parents, Melania's spokesperson released a statement that expressed the first lady's thoughts on the matter.
"Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform," the statement from Melania's communications director read. "She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart."
Responses to that statement, however, noted that her words fell short of actually criticizing the president outright, instead blaming Congress (and, implicitly, congressional Democrats) for failing to fix the policy that her husband's administration put in place.
3. Melania's Infamous Jacket
In June, The Daily Mail first reported that Melania wore a Zara jacket emblazoned with the words "I Really Don't Care, Do U?" when she went to visit the border during the family separation crisis. The episode caused a major stir on social media, prompting both the president and the first lady to respond to it. However, their explanations of Melania's peculiar fashion choice didn't exactly match up.
"It's a jacket. There was no hidden message," Melania's spokesperson told Bustle in a statement. "After today's important visit to Texas, I hope the media isn't going to choose to focus on her wardrobe. (Much like her high heels last year.)"
Donald, on the other hand, gave a different explanation in a tweet.
"'I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?' written on the back of Melania’s jacket, refers to the Fake News Media," he wrote. "Melania has learned how dishonest they are, and she truly no longer cares!"
Even before Trump was elected, Melania said in a campaign speech that if she were to become first lady, stopping cyberbullying would be one of her main focuses. And in March of 2018, when she got together a group of tech executives to discuss the subject, she acknowledged at the meeting that her choice of initiative was already seen in a skeptical light.
“I am well aware that people are skeptical of me discussing this topic,” Melania said at the beginning of the meeting. “I have been criticized for my commitment to tackling this issue, and I know that will continue. But it will not stop me from doing what I know is right.”
The reason for that, of course, is that her husband frequently insults people on Twitter, a habit he began before his time in politics and has not stopped doing even now that he's the president.
5. Stormy Daniels
One of the major storylines of the Trump presidency that keeps on cropping up is Stormy Daniels, the adult film tycoon who claims that she had an affair with Trump over a decade ago (a claim that President Trump has repeatedly denied). Melania has remained silent on the topic — but Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani took it upon himself to speak up for her.
"She believes her husband, and she knows it's untrue," Giuliani said at a conference in Tel Aviv in June. Melania's spokesperson, however, didn't let that stand.
"I don't believe Mrs. Trump has ever discussed her thoughts on anything with Mr. Giuliani," Stephanie Grisham, Melania's spokesperson, told Elite Daily when asked about Giuliani's comments.
6. The President's Language
Early in the campaign, well before anyone thought that her husband would become president, Melania made it clear in an interview with CNN that she doesn't "agree with everything that he says," but that she also doesn't "try to change him." Specifically, she preferred that he would not employ some of the vulgar language he was using at his rallies, like when then-candidate Trump repeated a woman who had called his primary rival Ted Cruz a "p*ssy."
"And I'm thinking like, 'Don't repeat it,' in my head, for him, 'Don't repeat it. Just don't say it because the next day, media, all they will talk about is that.' But he repeated it," she told CNN. She went on to defend him for using the word, though, saying that he had merely picked it up from the crowd and that it "was not his word."
7. Melania's Late Move To D.C.
Early in the Trump administration, much was made of the fact that Melania didn't move to the White House immediately, instead electing to stay in New York with her and Donald's son Barron until he finished his school year. Melania didn't offer a complete explanation of that decision herself, and speculation abounded that she didn't move immediately because she wanted to avoid the high-pressure White House life.
8. All Of The Tweets
Ronald Kessler, a former reporter for the Washington Post who recently published a book called The Trump White House: Changing the Rules of the Game, told Inside Edition that Melania reportedly isn't fond of Trump's favorite way of communicating: his tweet storms.
"Obviously, Trump doesn't listen to her all the time,” Kessler claimed, after explaining that Melania reportedly maintains general control over what goes on in the presidential residence. “She tries to get him to stop tweeting and of course he ignores that."
Bustle reached out to Melania Trump's spokeswoman for comment, but did not hear back immediately.
9. Barbara Bush's Funeral
In April, Melania went to the funeral of former first lady Barbara Bush without President Trump, who decided not to attend "to avoid disruptions due to added security, and out of respect for the Bush Family," per a White House statement. Melania's attendance and apparently warm exchanges with President Barack Obama also drew a lot of attention on social media, given how much energy her husband has spent criticizing his predecessor and members of the Bush family.
However, USA Today noted that despite the optics of the situation, it's actually normal for current first ladies to attend the funerals of former first ladies and for the sitting president to sit those events out.
10. Watching CNN
In July, the New York Times reported that President Trump got angry when he saw that Melania was watching CNN on board Air Force One, insisting that all TVs be turned to Fox in the future. In a statement to CNN about the incident, Melania's spokesperson didn't confirm or deny whether it happened the way that the Times described, but she did say that the first lady can watch “any channel she wants.”
11. Hidden Signals?
In a couple of cases, Melania has piqued the public's interest with subtle fashion or social media moves, and people have read intention into them that may or may not actually be there. For example, she wore a "pussy-bow" shirt to the presidential debate that took place only days after the Washington Post published the 2005 audio in which the eventual president had used the line, "grab 'em by the p*ssy" in reference to women. In a signal of how imprecise any interpretations of the first lady can be, though, people have interpreted this as both a troll of her husband and a sign that she was standing by him.
In another instance, Melania wore a white pantsuit — which many saw as a symbol of Hillary Clinton and the resistance to Trump — to President Trump's first State of the Union address. The New York Times described this as "as subtle a slap in the face as could be contained in a garment." Later, she wore a white hat for a state visit with French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, which the New York Times noted may have been a signal that she meant to position herself on the side of goodness and morality.
She makes far less use of Twitter than her husband does, but there was at least one instance where people noted that she might have been trying to send a signal. In the spring of 2017, Snopes verified that Melania's personal Twitter account had briefly liked a tweet saying that "Seems the only #Wall @realDonaldTrump's built is the one between him and @FLOTUS #Melania #trump." The like was quickly removed, though, and Snopes noted that it could have easily been a mistake on Melania's or another account user's part.
There are also, of course, myriad times when Melania has remained firmly on her husband's side, from her birther claims to her silence on so many of the Trump administration's policy. Still, it's worth noting the time when she made her differences known, implicitly or explicitly, as an independent person.