Melania Trump wasn’t at Mar-a-Lago; here’s truth about her marriage
April 6, 2023 11:49 AM
Would she turn up in a blaze of supporting glory – or snub him and sink his darkest day into even deeper despair? Spectacularly, it was the latter.
As Donald Trump’s family – Don Jr, Eric, Tiffany – loyally filed into the Mar-a-Lago ballroom Wednesday night, the most notable absence was not that of his daughter Ivanka, but his sphinx-like wife Melania, Mail Online reported.
But could you blame her? For how furious she must be with her husband, and this whole tawdry saga that keeps alive sordid allegations that Trump paid $130,000 to former porn star Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about an extra-marital affair.
Because the Former First lady now faces up to a year and a half of having her dirty laundry aired in public, with the world repeatedly reminded of her husband’s infidelity as the New York criminal case drags on.
Nonetheless, Melania’s no-show came in stark contrast to last week, when a picture emerged of the couple together with friends at Trump’s Palm Beach resort, despite the recent news of his indictment and imminent arrest.
Trump-ally Gina Loudon, who took the picture, described the scene as one of ‘love’ and ‘happiness’.
'Mrs Trump… stands behind her husband, as she always has,' a source assured DailyMail.com.
And yet, on what was perhaps the most important day in her husband’s career, this was the moment – the powerful fight-back speech following his historic arraignment – in which Melania’s reassuring presence could have shattered for good the image of her as the reluctant, ‘trapped’ wife, as she is so often cast.
But it wasn’t to be. And, of course, her remarkable absence at Trump’s speech – held in the same ballroom they were married in 18 years ago – instantly sparked speculation across every media website.
Was Wednesday's indictment drama the straw that finally broke the camel’s back?
Now DailyMail.com has fresh insight into the rumors that have repeatedly dogged Melania, 52, ever since the early days of Trump’s 2016 election campaign.
Almost everyone, from cable-news networks to the baying Twitter masses, has at some point cast her as the prisoner of an unhappy marriage to a man 24 years her senior – only for her to then defy expectations.
Throughout the tumultuous Trump presidency, social media would light up with calls to ‘#FreeMelania’. Embarrassing video clips of her batting away his attempts to hold her hand in public were paraded as evidence of her alleged ‘captivity’. Some even likened the situation to domestic abuse.
In a 2018 tell-all memoir, former Trump aide Omarosa Manigault Newman – who Trump fired within the first year of his term and memorably nicknamed ‘Wacky’ Omarosa – wrote: ‘Melania is counting every minute until he is out of office and she can divorce him.’
And yet only last May, the former First Lady grinned and told Fox News ‘never say never’ when asked about a possible return to the White House.
Indeed, ‘Miserable Melania’ is a label that has been hard to shake despite clear evidence to the contrary.
Memorably, in January 2018, days after Trump’s alleged affair with Stormy Daniels was outed by The Wall Street Journal, the First Lady cancelled plans to accompany her husband to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. She blamed ‘scheduling and logistical issues.’
Predictably, the media went berserk.
Yet, just a few weeks later, she appeared again – smiling and supportive, dressed in angelic white at Trump’s State of the Union address. The crowd greeted her with resounding applause – and the rumor-mill died away once again.
As recently as last Thursday, an anchor of the talk show The View, Sara Haines, speculated whether Melania’s marriage is transactional: ‘There could be monies in exchange, deals made, arrangements.’
The theory that her reasons for remaining married are financial is far from new, of course.
A 2020 book by Washington Post reporter Mary Jordan claimed that part of the reason Melania delayed her move to the White House from Trump Tower until 2017 was that she was renegotiating her prenuptial agreement.
Though the details of the agreement remain a mystery, Jordan noted that initially it ‘had not been incredibly generous’. The cynical suggestion was that she had since secured a better ‘deal’.
Yet some of those who have known Melania well over the years say that she is unfairly maligned – and often underestimated.
That the Slovenian immigrant born to a car salesman and factory worker, and who grew up under Communism – before moving to New York in 1996 – knew exactly the type of man she was marrying. And that she takes pride in her astounding turn of fate to have become the second First Lady born outside the United States.
Speaking the DailyMail.com this week, Melania’s former Chief of Staff Stephanie Grisham, who resigned after the January 6, 2021, Capitol riots, said: ‘I believe Melania knew who her husband was when she married him. She has a very realistic and practical view of who her husband is. She never mentioned divorce. And when it came to Stormy, she always just said this: “his problem”.’
‘I wasn't surprised that she wasn't [at Mar-a-Lago on Wednesday]. She doesn't want to be seen as the wife who will be next to her husband no matter what he does. She puts herself first,' she added.
‘She never wanted to be like Hillary Clinton. After the Monica Lewinsky news came out and [Hillary] still walked her husband out to the helicopter during lunch… Melania didn’t want to be that person. She's just not going to be some shrinking violet that stands next to him.’
Could that be the reason for Melania’s conspicuous absence?
Certainly, Grisham – who has remained relatively loyal to Melania, despite being outspokenly critical of Trump – paints a picture of a much more assertive and engaged woman than the icy and vacuous clothes-horse she is often caricatured as.
‘They always seemed to have a partnership to me,’ Grisham said. ‘He used to really look to her for advice and take her advice very seriously.’
This chimes with the surprising revelation by former Acting Secretary of Defence Christopher Miller, who wrote in his memoir this year that Melania sat next to Trump in the Situation Room during the October 2019 raid to kill ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
According to Miller, it was Melania who suggested Trump should make a public statement on the assassination in the style of Barack Obama’s famous Osama Bin Laden speech.
In 2018, when Melania visited a migrant-child detention center wearing a jacket emblazoned with ‘I really don't care, do you?’, she was criticized for being painfully out of touch.
Though her expertise doesn’t lie in public speaking, and her preference is generally to shy away from scandal, Melania took the highly irregular step of personally speaking out in an interview about the tasteless stunt.
‘[It was] kind of a message,’ she snapped. ‘It was for the people and for the left-wing media who are criticizing me. I want to show them I don't care. You could criticize whatever you want to say. But it will not stop me [doing] what I feel is right.’
It was a fleeting public display of confidence – perhaps even aggression – that could betray a more fiery private personality.
After all, this is the woman who in a 2016 interview about how she met Trump, revealed: ‘He wanted my number, but he was with a date, so of course I didn't give it to him. I said, “I am not giving you my number; you give me yours, and I will call you”.’
Unlike Ivanka – formerly Trump’s fierce defender and beloved First daughter – Melania has not yet wavered in her unambiguous support of Trump, at least in her public statements.
After last week’s news of Trump’s indictment, Ivanka – who has recently moved to distance herself from her father and even relocated to Miami with her husband Jared Kushner and their young children – issued a rather bizarre and ambivalent statement.
‘I love my father, and I love my country. Today I am pained for both,’ she said.
For her part, and at least until we hear otherwise, Melania has yet to change the official line that she firmly ‘stands behind her husband’ – despite the humiliation she must feel over the Stormy Daniels affair.
Yes, her absence at Mar-a-Lago on Wednesday raises fresh questions about the stability of the Trumps’ marriage – but anyone sensible would also know better than to write off the woman who has confounded her critics time and time again.