After nearly a month-long hiatus from the public eye, First Lady Melania Trump's brief return to business as usual on Monday spurred more questions than answers. With the hashtag #whereismelania gaining ground on Twitter and people speculating about her condition and future plans, President Donald Trump tweeted about Melania's absence on Wednesday.
"The Fake News Media has been so unfair, and vicious, to my wife and our great First Lady, Melania," Trump tweeted. "During her recovery from surgery they reported everything from near death, to facelift, to left the W.H. (and me) for N.Y. or Virginia, to abuse."
But according to Trump, there's no truth behind any of those stories. "All Fake," he tweeted, adding that "she is doing really well!" Trump went on to accuse multiple reporters of not only seeing Melania in person, but seeing a visibly happy Melania — and failing to report on it.
"Four reporters spotted Melania in the White House last week walking merrily along to a meeting," he tweeted. "They never reported the sighting because it would hurt the sick narrative that she was living in a different part of the world, was really ill, or whatever. Fake News is really bad!"
Melania's latest hiatus lasted 24 days. The first lady had last been seen in public on May 10, when she joined President Trump in welcoming three American hostages home from North Korea. On May 14, it was announced that Melania had been admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for treatment of what the White House described as a benign kidney condition.
The first lady was hospitalized for nearly a week following an embolization procedure despite Trump's initial estimates that his wife would be hospitalized for two or three days. During that time, neither the president nor the White House commented on why the first lady's hospital stay had been extended. At one point during her hospital stay, Melania moved to quell rumors of a more serious illness by tweeting that she was "feeling great" and looked "forward to getting back home [to the] WhiteHouse soon."
Melania's eventual return to the White House following her hospitalization did not, however, lead to any immediate public appearances. In fact, she appeared to be conspicuously absent from the public eye until June 4, when she joined President Trump in attending a ceremony, that was closed to the press, honoring the sacrifice of Gold Star families.
Her absence has been met with intense speculation and scrutiny both in the news and on social media as people wonder just what has caused her to shy away from the spotlight. Late night host Stephen Colbert, for example, has speculated that the first lady has been hard at work behind the scenes trying to escape the White House. "Well, I’m not surprised — it took that Shawshank guy years to tunnel out," he said of her absence from public events.
The first lady addressed even the issue of her absence with a tweet fired off late last month. "I see the media is working overtime speculating where I am & what I'm doing," Melania tweeted May 30. "Rest assured, I'm here at the @WhiteHouse w my family, feeling great, & working hard on behalf of children & the American people!"
The first lady is expected to join her husband for a hurricane briefing by the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Wednesday, according to the Hill. But Melania's brief return to the public eye will likely be just that — brief. Stephanie Grisham, the first lady's communications director, has said Melania currently has no plans to join President Trump in traveling to Canada for the G-7 summit, or to Singapore for the landmark North Korean summit.