The conspiracy theorists can sit back down. After disappearing from public view for nearly a month, Melania Trump tweeted photos from her appearance at FEMA's headquarters on Wednesday, putting to rest the assortment of theories that arose during her absence. The first lady said she had an "informative" meeting at the disaster response agency and promoted a FEMA mobile app in her tweet.
"Informative meeting with @FEMA today," Melania wrote in her tweet. "With the hurricane season is upon us, you can download the FEMA app https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app to start receiving alerts & safety reminders." In the photos she posted, Melania is seen at a table with Donald, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, Vice President Mike Pence, and other cabinet members.
Until Wednesday, Melania hadn't been seen in public since May 10, when she accompanied Donald to welcome home three Americans who'd recently been released by North Korea. Four days later, the White House announced that she'd been admitted to Walter Reed medical center to undergo embolization for a "benign kidney condition." But although physicians say that this type of procedure usually only requires patients to stay in the hospital for a day afterwards, Melania wasn't discharged until six days later — and even then, she made no public appearances.
This led many people to wonder: What, exactly, was the first lady doing?
Donald welcomed his wife's return from the hospital — although he misspelled her name in the process — and while addressing reporters outside of the White House on May 20, told them that Melania was doing "great" and was in fact looking at them from a nearby window. The president pointed to said window, but when the journalists glanced at it, they did not see the first lady, according to pool reports.
On May 30th, as concern over Melania's whereabouts was growing, a tweet was published on the @FLOTUS Twitter account assuring followers that she was fine.
"I see the media is working overtime speculating where I am & what I'm doing," the tweet read. "Rest assured, I'm here at the @WhiteHouse w my family, feeling great, & working hard on behalf of children & the American people!"
This didn't quell any of the confusion, however: Many suspected that the tweet was authored by somebody else, and as Ashley Feinberg at the HuffPost noted, the phrasing of the message bore several close similarities to Donald's own tweets. The subsequent announcement that Melania wouldn't be accompanying Donald to either the upcoming G7 summit or the meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12 only added fuel to the fire.
All of this led to a wave of lurid conspiracy theories about the first lady's whereabouts. On Tuesday, however, Melania appeared at a private event for families whose loved ones have died in the armed forces. Although the press wasn't invited, the first lady posted photos from the event that appeared to show her sitting in the front row next to Donald. CNN reported that, according to a source who was in the room, the president spent around a minute joking about the media's speculation as to Melania's whereabouts.
Finally, on Wednesday — 26 days after she was last seen in public — Melania joined Donald at a FEMA briefing about Hurricane Maria. The media was invited to this event, and video showed a smiling first lady sitting next to Donald, thus putting the weeks-long mystery to rest once and for all.
"Thank you, Melania," the president said at the event. "She went through a little rough patch, but she's doing great. ... We're very proud of her. She's done a fantastic job a first lady."