Trump: Melania has been ‘unfairly maligned’ by media

In a lengthy, freewheeling press conference on Thursday, President Trump addressed his wife’s role in the White House and contended that she has been “unfairly maligned” by the news media.

Speculation about Melania Trump’s willingness to take on the first lady role ramped up following the revelation that she would stay in New York with the couple’s son, Barron, so he could finish out the school year. She made her first post-inauguration appearance in Washington on Wednesday, when she was on hand to greet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Trump said his wife’s main focus as first lady would be “women’s issues, women’s difficulties” and noted that she had recently reopened the White House Visitor Center.

He then launched into a lengthy, impassioned defense of her career and character.

“I think she’s a great representative for this country, and a funny thing happens, because she gets so unfairly maligned — the things they say,” Trump said.

“I’ve known her for a long time. She was a very successful person — she was a very successful model; she did really well. She would go home at night and didn’t even want to go out with people; she was a very private person. She was always the highest quality that you’ll ever find, and the things they say — and I’ve known her for a long time — the things they say are so unfair, and actually, she’s been apologized to, as you know, by various media, because they said things that were lies.”

Trump also said his daughter Ivanka, whom he called “a fabulous person and a fabulous, fabulous woman,” will work closely with Melania, and he praised both women effusively.

“They’re not doing this for money; they’re not doing this for pay. They’re doing this because they feel it, both of them,” Trump said.