Donald and Melania Trump's marriage has been the subject of rumors and scrutiny ever since Trump's campaign began — and the rumors aren't always kind ones. The president showed off another side of their relationship for her birthday, however. Trump emailed his supporters about Melania's birthday, praising his wife and asking them to sign her card.
“Please join us in celebrating the First Lady and my BEAUTIFUL, kind-hearted and exceptional wife Melania’s BIRTHDAY by signing her card,” the email read, offering readers a link to sign the first lady's card. The email continued:
Melania is my rock and foundation, and I wouldn’t be the man I am today without her by my side. She’s the cornerstone of our family, and an incredible mother to our son, Barron. I’m so proud of her accomplishments, and I hope you’ll wish her well on her special day.
The email provided several links to the website for Melania's birthday card, which is run by the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, a fundraising operation for Trump's re-election campaign. Once you get to the website, there's another call to sign Melania's card, which reads, "Our elegant and beautiful First Lady is celebrating a birthday in just a few days. Please join us in wishing her a wonderful birthday celebration surrounded by friends and family!"
Coverage of Melania Trump's role in the family and the administration has often been overshadowed by talk of her husband and his alleged behavior outside of their marriage. Even before Trump was elected, the infamous Access Hollywood tape showed Trump talking about kissing and grabbing other women without their consent (Trump apologized for his comments in the tape and said that it was just "locker room talk"). That tape was recorded less than a year after he and Melania had gotten married.
The tape, in which Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women, was followed by numerous allegations of sexual harassment against the eventual president, which he has repeatedly and categorically denied. Another challenge now faces their marriage: claims from multiple women about consensual extramarital affairs, which the White House has denied and Trump himself hasn't commented on. Both adult film tycoon Stormy Daniels and former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal have claimed that they had affairs with Trump beginning in 2006, soon after Melania gave birth to their son, Barron. Both women also received money in exchange for their silence — Daniels from Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen, and McDougal from the National Enquirer.
The public has also fixated at various times during Trump's administration on moments when Melania appeared to be avoiding her husband, like when she seemed to swat away his hand when they landed in Israel — and then again later on the same trip abroad. She also remained in New York for the first several months of her husband's administration, which prompted discussion as to whether she was doing it to avoid life in Washington with Trump. Their explanation for that decision, though, was that they wanted Barron to finish his school year in New York.
Melania herself has also raised questions at times, like when she claimed that her project as the first lady would be to fight cyberbullying. However, in March she acknowledged the irony inherent in that decision at a White House roundtable discussion with several tech executives.
“I am well aware that people are skeptical of me discussing this topic,” she said, opening 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.”
Being a member of the first family means facing praise and criticism at times, and Melania has already met with both. Both will also continue, but perhaps this virtual card will make the scales tip toward praise on her birthday.