As the tumultuous years of Donald Trump’s presidency have worn on, one person has continuously intrigued the public, both for good reasons and bad: First Lady Melania Trump. The third wife of the 45th president and the mother of Trump’s youngest son, Barron, Melania’s unconventional time in the White House has been marked by glamorous clothes, ill-timed eye rolls, and a handful of out-of-touch moments.
Still, the first lady has had to navigate some very difficult challenges during her husband’s presidency — she had former friends spill the details about her personal life in tell-all books, she was diagnosed with COVID-19, and every time her husband said or did something controversial, she found herself trying to distance herself from his rhetoric as much as possible.
It’s no secret that Melania didn’t love the idea of becoming first lady — after all, she waited almost six months after her husband took office to move to the White House — so it comes as no surprise that her years in Washington, D.C. have been marked by both special experiences and downright awful moments. So brace yourself because these are the best and worst days of Melania Trump’s life.
Best: Melania Trump looked pleasantly surprised when greeting Poland's first lady
There have been a lot of moments during the Trump presidency that have gone viral, and none are as surprising or as funny as the moment when the president was subtly snubbed by the first lady of Poland. As reported by Time, President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania Trump, were in Warsaw and were greeted by Polish President Andrzej Duda, and his wife, Agata Kornhauser-Duda. Standing in front of cameras and press members, the four started to engage in formal hellos and handshakes, and instead of greeting The Donald first (whose hand was outstretched, by the way), Agata Kornhauser-Duda walked straight past him and shook Melania’s hand instead.
By the awkward and very amusing video of the exchange, it appears as though Melania was pleasantly surprised by the Polish first lady’s gesture, and the two women seem to thoughtfully and enthusiastically greet each other (much to a sullen Donald Trump’s surprise). Soon Agata Kornhauser-Duda turned to Donald, but the exchange was just too good not to watch. We can imagine that Melania got a bit of a giggle out of it all.
Worst: The day Melania Trump's husband said this was probably downright awful
Donald Trump is known for saying some off-the-wall comments. Whether caught in private moments (think the Access Hollywood tape) or heard insulting his political opponents at rallies, his brazen tactics are not hidden. As noted by The Guardian, things were not great for Melania Trump the day that rumors about her husband’s comments about her at a private 2019 fundraising event began to swirl.
So what exactly happened? Do you remember when Louisiana congressman Steve Scalise got shot? Donald was thinking about it and reportedly said the following: “[Scalise’s wife] cried her eyes out when I met her at the hospital that fateful day … I mean not many wives would react that way to tragedy, I know mine wouldn’t.”
Hopefully for Melania’s sake, the line was said as a joke. But honestly with The Donald, it’s hard to tell what is humorous and what is rooted in reality. Did the line have something to do with the very obvious tension between the couple? Was it retaliation for Melania’s hand swats or scowls at her husband? No one will truly ever know, but this could not have been a good day for her.
Best: This stealthy visit to a Washington children's hospital was a great look for Melania Trump
Melania Trump did not make a lot of high-profile visits as first lady. But some of the work she’s done has been stealthy, and that was the case when she worked with the Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C. As noted by the Daily Mail in late 2019, the first lady maintained a relationship with a teenage cancer patient, Caoilinn McLane, for over three years — they met in 2017, and saw each other during her visits.
Their relationship came to light in 2019, when McLane introduced Melania Trump during her official visit to the hospital — a first lady tradition that dates all the way back to the Truman years. McLane said that the first time she spoke to Melania on the phone was “so special.” She said, “I felt very cared for and it … meant a lot that somebody was thinking about me.”
McLane’s mom, Libby, echoed the sentiments, as her daughter had been receiving messages from the first lady through the hospital. “She really is genuine and cares for the kids, and that’s so special,” she said. All in all, this was a good day and a great look for the first lady.
Worst: The day Melania Trump was hit with COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic and its ravaging of the world has been some of the worst news to come out of 2020, and, just as the virus has touched millions of people in the United States, it impacted the first family. One of the worst days of Melania Trump’s life had to have been the day she tested positive for COVID-19. To make matters worse, her son, Barron Trump, tested positive as well shortly after.
“I was very fortunate as my diagnosis came with minimal symptoms, though they hit me all at once and it seemed to be a roller coaster of symptoms in the days after,” she wrote in a piece published on the White House’s website. “Recovering from an illness gives you a lot of time to reflect. When my husband was taken to Walter Reed as a precaution, I spent much of my time reflecting on my family. I also thought about the hundreds of thousands of people across our country who have been impacted by this illness that infects people with no discrimination.”
Here’s to hoping that the first lady, her son, and everyone impacted by the virus is on the path to complete recovery.
Best: When Melania Trump brought empathy to the Republican National Convention
It’s no secret that empathy and understanding aren’t qualities that the Trump administration is known for — so it was very surprising and honestly a good look for Melania Trump when she struck a compassionate tone while speaking at the 2020 Republican National Convention. As noted by The Washington Post, she used her speech and “[cast] herself with particular warmth.”
“While the rest of the family was raging against the Democrats and the unfairness of the media, and the tech titans and entrenched Washington forces, Melania Trump was gliding above it all, unwilling to sully herself with another rendition of the Trump family rant,” The Post reported. She then used her speech to offer her “deepest sympathy” to the families who had lost members and loved ones to COVID-19, and she reiterated her message to the people that they were “not alone.” She even went as far as expressing her concern about the national psyche and the fear that the pandemic was inciting. Definitely a good day for Melania Trump and for her time as first lady.
Worst: There were just too many awkward moments at her husband's inauguration
The day that Donald Trump was sworn into office, the internet was gifted with so many awkward Melania Trump moments. When the Trumps were welcomed to the White House by Barack and Michelle Obama, not only did The Donald leave his wife in the car and saunter up the White House steps on his own, but she was left to maneuver a gift-giving exchange with Michelle that was so awkward. Barack Obama “saved the day,” as Michelle told Ellen DeGeneres, by taking the gift that she was so uncomfortably standing with. Not a great way to kick things off.
Of course, there was the moment when Donald turned to look at Melania during the swearing-in ceremony, in which she smiled at him, only to immediately frown as he turned away (the video spread like wildfire on Twitter). As noted by Harper’s Bazaar, the hashtag #FreeMelania started trending, and it seemed like people were genuinely worried about her. Then, of course, the dance between the newly minted first couple was painful to watch because of their body language, which seemed “very, very formal.”
Best: This small moment at the inaugural ball may have turned a bad day around
The day that Donald Trump was inaugurated was full of cringe-worthy moments, but if one moment from that slightly awful day stood out for Melania Trump, it was likely the joyous dance she shared with a soldier during the inaugural ball. As noted by The Telegraph, Melania danced with Jose Medina, a Puerto Rican soldier. Given that the body language between the two seemed natural and carefree (a big difference from the tension between the first couple), media outlets in countries like Mexico and Puerto Rico picked up on the story, with one outlet writing, “This is what happens when a Hispanic officer dances with Melania Trump.”
Puerto Rican newspaper Primera Hora interviewed Medina about the dance, and he seemed giddy just thinking about it. “I can hardly believe it,” he said. “I found out before the New Year and I had like three weeks of nerves … I had a great time. It is such an honor to have had the privilege of dancing with the first lady. I had to steal the show and give her a twirl!”
So, her husband’s inauguration day may have been both one of her best and worst days.
Worst: Things couldn't have been easy for Melania Trump the day this tell-all book was released
It comes as no surprise that high-profile people have high-profile enemies, but the day that Stephanie Winston Wolkoff — a former White House adviser and close friend of Melania Trump’s — released her book about the first lady, it couldn’t have been a good day for Melania. As reported by The Washington Post, the book, Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with the First Lady, had some serious dirt about her and called her character into question.
Winston Wolkoff characterized working for the Trumps as “the worst mistake of my life,” and she berated the first lady for not jumping to her defense when questions about inaugural spending came to light. Winston Wolkoff’s contract was shortly dissolved thereafter, and she clearly wanted to share her side of the story (even at Melania’s expense).
“When it really counted, Melania wasn’t there for me,” Winston Wolkoff wrote in her book. “She wasn’t really my friend. In fact, I wish I had never met her.” The two had met in New York back in 2003, but we can safely imagine that there is only bad blood between them now.
Best: Melania Trump's wedding to Donald Trump was full of smiles, caviar, and Cristal
Before she was first lady, before she was a Republican party darling, and before she was a consistent media figure, Melania Trump was the new bride of Donald Trump — the “self-made” tycoon with rich friends, lots of properties, and influence around the world. Melania was still working as a model when she and Donald met, and when the two tied the knot in 2005, she was one of the most glam brides out there. Melania and Donald got married at The Episcopal Church of Bethesda by-the-Sea in Palm Beach, Fla. on Jan. 22, 2005, and the wedding was just as opulent as you’d think.
As noted by the Palm Beach Post, the ceremony was attended by A-listers, including Barbara Walters, Billy Joel, Katie Couric, Kathie Lee Gifford, and, of course, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani. From the photos, Melania looks beautiful and very happy — gone was her infamous smize — and she was seen genuinely smiling and enjoying the event. After the ceremony, guests made their way to Mar-a-Lago, where they were treated to a reception that boasted caviar and Cristal. Those were the days.
Worst: Remember the day secret recordings of her complaining about Christmas were released?
Surprises can either be great or awful, and when a secret recording of Melania Trump complaining about some of her duties was leaked, the surprise must’ve taken her for a loop. As noted by CNN, she was “secretly recorded in the summer of 2018 expressing her frustration at being criticized for her husband’s policy of separating families … while at the same time needing to perform traditional first lady duties, such as preparing for Christmas.”
Who recorded the now-infamous comments? None other than former friend Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who wrote the book Melania and Me about the first lady and their relationship (and all the tea that went with it).
“They say I’m complicit. I’m the same like him, I support him. I don’t say enough I don’t do enough where I am,” Melania was recorded saying, which was played to the public for the first time on Anderson Cooper 360. “I’m working … my a** off on the Christmas stuff, that you know, who gives a f*** about the Christmas stuff and decorations? But I need to do it, right?” Yeah… that couldn’t have been a good day for the first lady.
Best: Melania Trump probably had a great day when searching for schools for Barron in Florida
We’ve pretty much known from the beginning of her husband’s time in office that Melania Trump wasn’t super big on the idea of being first lady and on living in the White House. She took a number of months to move to D.C. after her husband took office, and once it was determined that he would be leaving the White House in January 2021, she started taking steps to plan for her post-D.C. life.
As noted by People, Melania was spotted in Florida in December 2020 looking at potential schools for her son, Barron Trump, and the residence of Mar-a-Lago was reportedly being spruced up for their (most likely) move down to Florida. “Melania is checking out a good Florida school for Barron,” a close source told People. “They have looked all over Palm Beach County and neighboring Broward County for just the right place. There are several options, and they will decide soon.”
According to Page Six, Melania was seen touring Fort Lauderdale’s Pine Crest school. Since her post-White House life is confirmed and she can finally get out of D.C., we can imagine that school-hunting made for a great day for her.
Worst: When Melania Trump had to deal with her husband's strange post-hospitalization behavior
Donald Trump’s presidency has been marked by a lot of controversial moments, and the day that he made his dramatic return to the White House after being hospitalized with COVID-19 probably was not great for Melania Trump. As noted by The Washington Post, Donald took off his mask while standing on the White House balcony in a weird display of strength, and while he was doing so, Melania was taking the steps to distance herself from his rhetoric.
“The office of first lady Melania Trump, who was also sick with the coronavirus, released an incredibly detailed statement on the precautions it had taken since March to protect the members of the staff,” The Post reported. The D.C. newspaper assessed that the release of the statement was in itself a statement, that the first lady was taking the steps to assuage outcry over her husband’s behavior.
“It’s extraordinary in history, and it’s a direct contradiction to the way in which he is behaving,” Myra Gutin, a professor at Rider University, told The Post. So while recovering herself, Melania had to deal with her husband’s ill-timed behavior. Not great for her at all.
Best: Melania Trump's favorite day was likely when her son was born
It’s no surprise that one of Melania Trump’s best days was the day her son was born. As noted by New York Daily News, Barron Trump was born around 6 a.m. on March 20, 2006, and he weighed 8.5 pounds and was 21 inches long. “He’s a very good baby,” Melania told People shortly after Barron was born. “Sometimes I just think, ‘Oh my God, this is my baby. I have a baby.’ There’s nothing like it.”
As Barron has gotten older, Melania has taken to Instagram to share posts about her son on his birthday, wishing him a happy birthday on what is sure to be a great day each year for her too.
“I like to spend as much time as possible with him because children need your attention … they really want their mommy there,” she said to Mommy Helper in 2011 (via Amo Mama). Love her or hate her, Melania Trump makes her dedication to her son very known.
Worst: This outfit marked one of Melania Trump's worst moments
One of the worst days of Melania Trump’s time as first lady was when she chose to wear the jacket, which went down as one of the most inappropriate outfits she’s ever worn. As noted by CNN, she was traveling to Texas in June of 2018 to visit people impacted by her husband’s separation policy. The army green jacket had the words “I really don’t care. Do U?” written on the back — cue the media outcry. She was criticized for the choice, and her spokesperson Stephanie Grisham spoke out.
“It’s a jacket,” she told media outlets. “There was no hidden message.” But Melania’s husband couldn’t let the situation slide, and Donald Trump breathed his own messaging about the jacket to life. He tweeted that the message on the jacket was referring to “the fake news media.” He wrote, “Melania has learned how dishonest they are, and she truly no longer cares!”
So who knows what the true meaning behind the jacket was. But all the criticisms likely made for a bad day for the first lady.
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