On the same evening as attendees of a Donald Trump rally were chanting "lock her up" about Hillary Clinton, First Lady Melania Trump was thanking the former Secretary of State's daughter Chelsea Clinton for defending First Son Barron Trump.
Earlier this week, an article was published in conservative media outlet The Daily Caller mocking Barron's clothing. "The youngest Trump doesn't have any responsibilities as the president's son, but the least he could do is dress the part when he steps out in public," the article read.
Chelsea Clinton, a former first child familiar with the scrutiny of the role, was quick to call out the publication, saying, "It's high time the media & everyone leave Barron Trump alone & let him have the private childhood he deserves."
It's high time the media & everyone leave Barron Trump alone & let him have the private childhood he deserves https://t.co/Wxq51TvgDX- Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) August 21, 2017
This isn't the first time Chelsea has shared her support for Barron. In January, she wrote, "Barron Trump deserves the chance every child does-to be a kid," after an SNL writer mocked him on Twitter.
Melania responded by thanking Clinton, and adding: "So important to support all our children in being themselves!"
While her husband's tweets have been newsworthy since the campaign, the First Lady's social media posts have been making headlines in recent weeks.
Just before 1 p.m. on Saturday, August 12, Melania Trump tweeted the following in response to the increasingly violent situation in Charlottesville between neo-Nazi alt-right groups and counter protestors that would eventually lead to the murder of Heather Heyer and the serious injury of at least 19 others:
"Our country encourages freedom of speech, but let's communicate w/o hate in our hearts. No good comes from violence. #Charlottesville"
Our country encourages freedom of speech, but let's communicate w/o hate in our hearts. No good comes from violence. #Charlottesville- Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) August 12, 2017
While it's noteworthy that the First Lady made a statement about the conflict before her husband, the president, like him, she did not go far as to condemn white supremacists by name.
Melania has been slow to take on the traditional responsibilities of the first lady, but she has been somewhat more active on Twitter of late. To date, the first lady has used her twitter feed almost exclusively to share images of her official appointments, many of them on the handful of international trips she's taken, as well as marking important holidays.
But her Tweet immediately prior to the tepid statement about the events in Charleston may have indicated a new area of interest for the first lady. (During her husband's presidential campaign, Melania seemed to indicate that she would be focusing her advocacy efforts on combatting cyber bullying. However, a few months into the Trump administration, she reportedly "cast aside" that initiative.) On August 8th, she weighed in on America's opioid crisis.
The tweet, which included a poorly designed graphic of unknown origin, reads, "Opioids are destroying our youth/people. Mtg w @Potus & @SecPriceMD today to give my support to #STOPDRUGADDICTION"
It's unclear at this point if Melania has plans to pursue an opioid-abuse agenda of her own. (It has become an increasingly pressing issue for congress and the president, as an estimated 142 Americans die of drug overdoses every day.) The first lady's predecessor, Michelle Obama, made military families and childhood obesity her chosen causes, and her efforts on both of those fronts were well documented and supported with the kind of beautifully produced, social-media friendly imagery for which the Obama White House was well known. Melania Trump's husband may be a Twitter enthusiast, but her efforts to date seem puzzlingly amateurish for a first lady.
Here's a look back at what the first lady has been up to:
Earlier this summer, the White House announced the first lady's inaugural solo trip abroad, a big step for the somewhat reluctant political spouse. To put things into perspective, Melania's predecessor Michelle Obama waited 15 months before taking her first solo international trip, according to CNN.
Next month, Melania will serve as the leader of the US delegation at the Invictus Games in Toronto. During the annual event, which was founded by Prince Harry in 2014, hundreds of wounded and ill servicemen and women will compete in adaptive sports like wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, and swimming. Ninety Americans will reportedly participate in this year's games, which kick off on September 23.
“I was heartened by the great success of the inaugural Invictus Games that took place in London in 2015, and the second games in Orlando, Florida last year," Melania said in a statement.
"In just two short years, the Invictus Games have allowed thousands of injured and wounded servicemen and women from many different countries to participate in adaptive sports competitions - something that should be lauded and supported worldwide. I am honored by the opportunity to represent our country at this year’s games.”
USA Today reports that Melania will meet with Prince Harry during her time in Canada, and that she might even spend time with his girlfriend Meghan Markle, whose show Suits films in the area.
As for that rumor, her spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham simply said, "Stay tuned."
Earlier in June, just a few hours after her husband's much-anticipated first meeting with Vladimir Putin, First Lady Melania Trump, wearing a flapper-inspired Michael Kors dress, was seated next to the Russian president at a banquet dinner for heads of state at the G20 Summit. It's not clear what they spoke about, but their conversation was certainly shorter than the two-and-a-half-hour marathon session Trump and Putin held earlier in the day.
It apparently wasn't Mrs. Trump's first brush with the Russian leader. After a difficult morning during which her security detail deemed it unsafe for the first lady to leave her hotel, she spent the afternoon waiting for her husband's meeting to finish up. She had even been sent in to try and wrap up the conversation between her husband and his Russian counterpart.
According to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Putin and Trump got on famously. "There was just such a level of engagement and exchange, and neither one of them wanted to stop," he told reporters. "Several times I had to remind the President, and people were sticking their heads in the door. And I think they even - they sent in the First Lady at one point to see if she could get us out of there, and that didn't work either."
Tillerson reported that the two presidents discussed the ongoing war in Syria, the situation in Ukraine, and the allegations of Russian interference in the recent U.S. election. Tillerson reported that President Trump did raise the subject with Putin, and the two men agreed to focus on "how do we move forward from here." Just yesterday, Trump again questioned the reliability of U.S. intelligence on the subject, and said “Nobody really knows for sure.”
A day earlier, the first lady had warmed up the crowd in Poland’s capital ahead of her husband’s speech. She thanked her hosts and mentioned a visit to Warsaw's Copernicus Science Center, a place designed "to inspire people to observe, experiment, ask questions and seek answers."
Mrs. Trump went on to say that "a main focus of my husband presidency is safety and security [sic] of the American people," concluding, "I think as all of us can agree people should be able to live their lives without fear no matter what country they live in. That is my wish for all of us around the world."
The first lady's inclusive, optimistic words were in sharp contrast to her husband's much darker tone. He spoke of the need to defend the West from "radical Islamic terrorism" that was a threat to "our civilization and our way of life." He also broke with longstanding tradition to use this platform as yet another chance to rebuke the news media, his predecessor Barack Obama, and his own country's intelligence agencies.
For her part, Melania Trump's public role on this second foreign trip is a stark contrast to the early months of her tenure as first lady. Here's a look back at how her role has evolved.
Melania Trump largely stayed out of the spotlight following the inauguration, prompting speculation about everything from her state of mind to her relationship with president, but on June 29, her husband's Twitter activity prompted a rare public statement from the first lady's office.
Around 9 a.m. that morning, President Trump sent a series of crude tweets mocking television host Mika Brzezinski. The posts targeted not only her intelligence but also her appearance: "I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don't watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came ... to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year's Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!"
I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don't watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came..- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 29, 2017
...to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year's Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 29, 2017
In response to the attack, Melania, who reportedly "cast aside" her cyber bullying initiative just weeks ago, defended her husband.
"As the First Lady has stated publicly in the past, when her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder," Melania Trump's spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.
Needless to say, many are calling out just how inappropriate Trump's tweets were, including members of his own party.
I do not think making fun of a woman's looks is acceptable. I get it every day of my life. I think that tweet is cruel - and unpresidential- Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain) June 29, 2017
This has to stop – we all have a job – 3 branches of gov’t and media. We don’t have to get along, but we must show respect and civility.- Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) June 29, 2017
Mr. President, your tweet was beneath the office and represents what is wrong with American politics, not the greatness of America.- Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) June 29, 2017
Earlier this month, Melania moved to D.C. with her son Barron; previously they had been living in New York while he finished out the school year.
During a recent interview with Fox & Friends, the first lady revealed just how she and Barron are adjusting to their new home in at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
"We are enjoying it very much," she said of the White House, and when asked about her son Barron, she shared that the 11-year-old is settling in to life in D.C. just fine. "He loves it here," she said.
Despite this week's Congressional Picnic being New York-themed, Melania said she isn't homesick for the Big Apple. "I'm so busy, and we're doing so many great stuff," she said. "It's a really special place, I love it here."
Prior to the move, Melania spoke out against a photo of comedian Kathy Griffin in which she appears to be holding the decapitated head of President Trump surfaced.
"As a mother, a wife, and a human being, that photo is very disturbing," Trump said. "When you consider some of the atrocities happening in the world today, a photo opportunity like this is simply wrong and makes you wonder about the mental health of the person who did it."
Griffin has since apologized for the imagery, and has been fired from multiple jobs as a result of the photo.
In February, a White House press release announced the appointment of Anna Cristina Niceta Lloyd as White House social secretary. Niceta Lloyd, known as Rickie, will be responsible for all social events at the White House.
"Rickie brings with her over twenty-two years of solid diplomatic, political and social entertaining experience," said First Lady Melania Trump. "I am looking forward to sharing my ideas and traditions of entertaining and social hospitality to America's house, my new home as well. That, along with Rickie's vast experience, I am even more excited."
Niceta Lloyd had a hand in the planning the last five presidential inaugurations, and in her work at luxury event planning company Design Cuisine, she was involved in the execution of a number of State Department events. She is married to Thomas Lloyd, grandson of the late Bunny Mellon, who helped design the White House Rose Garden with First Lady Jackie Kennedy.
Earlier this year, a White House statement announced the first lady's decision to hire Lindsay Reynolds, a veteran of the George W. Bush administration, as her chief of staff. She has also appointed Tham Kannalikham as the White House decorator.
"I am putting together a professional and highly-experienced team which will take time to do properly," Trump said in a statement. "I am excited to be organizing and bringing together such a dynamic and forward thinking group of individuals who will work together to make our country better for everyone."
But despite these hires, Politico called the first lady's office in the East Wing "the loneliest place in the White House in February, with key roles in "press operation, scheduling, correspondence, and the social office" still open. Laura Bush and Michelle Obama, Trump's two immediate predecessors, had already appointed a chief of staff and a social secretary when they inherited the role, and as AOL points out, both "went on to champion their own issues - literacy and childhood obesity, respectively - during their time in office."
At the time, Myra Gutin, a professor at Rider University who studies first ladies, told New York magazine's The Cut that Trump is "far behind the curve compared to where modern first ladies have been by the time their husbands are inaugurated, in a quite unprecedented way."
Still, Melania's advisers insist she will take on more of the traditional first lady responsibilities - when she's ready.
"Everybody has expectations of what they think it should be," Anita McBride, who was Laura Bush's chief of staff, told The Cut, "but the reality is it's really for the first lady to determine how she can fulfill the role that's true to her."
- with reporting from the Associated Press
You Might Also Like