For over three weeks, the first lady has been out of the public eye after she underwent a kidney procedure to treat a benign condition. Since then, many have speculated about her whereabouts, prompting her to issue a tweet reassuring people that she is doing well. On Monday, Melania Trump is expected to host Gold Star families, attending her first official White House event since before having her procedure. However, there's a catch — you can't exactly tune into the event on TV.
Melania Trump was last seen in public on May 10, when she was at Andrews Air Force Base with her husband to welcome back American prisoners who had been released from North Korea. The first lady then had a medical procedure at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on May 14. She remained hospitalized for a few days afterward and returned to the White House on May 19. She has not attended any public events since the procedure. According to CNN, her spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham also indicated that she will not be attending the upcoming G7 summit in Quebec, Canada, and that she will be skipping the North Korea summit in Singapore in June. Not to mention, the event she's expected to attend on Monday will be closed to the press. In other words, few people will catch a glimpse of the first lady.
Still, Trump's scheduled appearance on Monday perhaps offers reassurance to those wondering when she would again be in the public eye.
According to CNN, the White House's Monday event is designed to honor those who have lost an immediate family member in wartime. It will begin at 5:30 p.m. ET.
Since her last public appearance, many have speculated as to why Trump has not been attending public events in recent weeks. As Martin Belam of The Guardian described, the first lady's "absence from public view has spawned all sorts of wild theories on social media about health and marriage." However, the first lady and her spokeswoman have insisted that she is doing well and simply prioritizing her health over events.
Indeed, in her aforementioned tweet on May 30, Trump wrote:
I see the media is working overtime speculating where I am & what I'm doing. Rest assured, I'm here at the @WhiteHouse w my family, feeling great, & working hard on behalf of children & the American people!
Moreover, as Time reported on May 30, Grisham noted that the first lady would like to be “out and about promoting her initiatives” but “her health comes first.” Trump's spokesperson also added that FLOTUS has been meeting with her staff to work on her Be Best initiative, a children's wellness campaign she launched on May 7. Grisham further noted that Trump is actively involved in planning upcoming White House events, including Fourth of July celebrations and the White House picnic for members of Congress.
President Donald Trump has also taken to reassuring the public about his wife's whereabouts. In fact, as The Washington Post noted, a pool report revealed that, on May 25, Trump was asked how the first lady was faring when he was at the White House boarding Marine One to attend a Naval Academy graduation. In response, Trump pointed at a window in the White House and said, "She’s doing great. She’s looking at us right there.” However, as The Washington Post also noted, at the time reporters looked toward the spot where Trump was pointing, they did not see any indication of the first lady.
Overall, Melania Trump's appearance at the Gold Star families event on Monday marks a return to official duties for the first lady after an absence of over three weeks. However, her return will likely not satisfy those wishing to see her in a more public light, considering that the event will be closed to the media.