Melania Trump’s self-pitying statement about the Capitol tells us what she’s planning next

Jennifer Stavros
·4-min read
La primera dama Melania Trump se encuentra junto al árbol de Navidad oficial de la Casa Blanca 2020 tal como se presenta en el Pórtico Norte de la Casa Blanca, el lunes 23 de noviembre de 2020, en Washington. ((Associated Press))
La primera dama Melania Trump se encuentra junto al árbol de Navidad oficial de la Casa Blanca 2020 tal como se presenta en el Pórtico Norte de la Casa Blanca, el lunes 23 de noviembre de 2020, en Washington. ((Associated Press))

Melania Trump been curiously quiet since the attack on the Capitol by pro-Trump rioters. In fact, she’s been curiously quiet all year. Folks on Twitter wondered openly about the meaning of the First Lady's sudden silence after she went dark on January 1st. And after the atrocities of last week — followed by her husband’s ban from Twitter, Facebook and more — all eyes were on Melania’s social media. How would she address what happened that day?

This morning — five full days after the riots at the Capitol — we got our answer. The First Lady released a written statement on the official White House blog and promoted on her Twitter. The statement, replete with typos and desperate pleas to stop the “salacious gossip, unwarranted personal attacks, and false misleading accusations on me”, is unlikely to boost her waning popularity. The fact that she calls for “togetherness” on the one hand and condemns unnamed “people who are looking to be relevant and who have an agenda” on the other perfectly encapsulates why people feel so uneasy about her.

In the immediate aftermath of last week’s riot, CNN and Vanity Fair reported on what Melania was doing at the time: she was taking photos of rugs at the White House. Not long after that, she sent prayers for insurrectionist Ashli Babbitt, who was shot as she attempted to storm the Capitol building, before mentioning others such as the police officer who died after clashing with rioters, and called attention to the fact that Babbitt was a veteran.

In some ways, it’s clear Melania wanted to be a “good First Lady”. She spent a lot of time restoring furniture and gardens at the White House and Mar-a-Lago, and her husband spent a lot of time publicly thanking her for it in his speeches. She has expressed interest in writing a coffee-table book about the furniture she has worked with (the reason, apparently, for that session taking decor photos during the riots last Wednesday), and she has consciously modeled her fashion choices on Jackie Kennedy. Last year, she even tried to close her tenure at the White House by emulating a Jackie Kennedy-style Christmas. Yet that’s where her “good First Ladyship” ends: at decor, rather than moral leadership, despite the fact that she clearly has the intellectual ability to provide the latter.

One could likely presume that more book deals like the one for the photo shoot Melania was undertaking during the insurrection events will likely be part of her exit strategy. If we learnt anything from the unofficial biography “The Art of Her Deal: The Untold Story of Melania Trump” , it’s that the First Lady is much more savvy than many imagine. It would be naive of us to assume that she doesn’t have a strategy for her post-presidential life, just as it would be foolish of us to assume that she doesn’t know what she’s doing now. We have heard what she really thinks through the words of Donald Trump — such as when he complained on her behalf that she hadn’t been on the cover of any fashion magazines — and through her choice of non-Jackie Kennedy-inspired fashion (who could forget “I really don’t care, do u?”)

Melania is here to stay, and it’s hard to say exactly how she imagines her future. But if history has shown us anything, it will likely be a continuation of that disaffected, disconnected, vain, and fragile self-victimization we’ve come to expect from both her and her spouse, wrapped up with a bitterness about how she didn’t become an instant hit in the world of glossy magazines.

Melania spoke in her statement today about “these defining moments”, which will “look back on” and which will inspire us to “tell our grandchildren that through empathy, strength, and determination, we were able to restore the promise of our future.” No matter what happens after she leaves, Melania has chosen her defining moments. She has reaped what she sowed by choosing, in the end, to stand by her husband. Many hoped, during the “Free Melania” phase of Trump’s presidency, that she might spectacularly abandon her husband or that she might not break with him when he showed his worst excesses. That has proven to be a pipe dream. Her punishment is disinterest from the world that embraced Jackie Kennedy, a world of fashion and frivolity which becomes decidedly squeamish when it comes to coups and insurrections.

Melania represents a part of America which I hope all of us can move forward from after Biden’s inauguration. After all, now her husband is out of office, we might really have a chance to be… best.