After some time out of the spotlight, first lady Melania Trump called a press conference on Monday to announce her initiative on child development, but it was instantly overshadowed by a plagiarism controversy and reports that she and the president are essentially living separate lives.
It was clear that the president and first lady are not close. But a Washington Post story on Sunday night illustrated how far apart they've grown, beginning with waking up in separate bedrooms:
"The Trumps are often apart even during their free time, according to several people who know the couple’s schedules. At Mar-a-Lago on holidays and weekends, the president golfs or dines with politicians, business executives and media personalities on the patio, while Melania is often nowhere to be seen. According to several current and former aides, the president and first lady often do not eat together in the White House either. 'They spend very little to no time together,' said one longtime friend of the president."
On Sunday, Elite Daily spoke with a body-language expert who evaluated the Trumps' relationship by their history of public gestures. Traci Brown pointed to photos that showed Melania smiling and looking relaxed and genuinely happy in her husbands' presence, a practice that changed around 2013. Now Melania seems to barely tolerate the president in photos, most recently at the White House state dinner and most infamously when she slapped his hand away on a tarmac in Tel Aviv.
"I've been doing body language [analysis] the last 20 years, and I've never seen a situation where the president gets his hand swatted," said Brown, who calls the first couple disconnected. "He wants to have a connection when he wants to have a connection, and she is pretty clearly showing she's tired of it. If you're a real team, that kind of thing doesn’t really happen. There's something going on behind the scenes that she would not want to do that."
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With revelations about Trump's payments to porn star Stormy Daniels coming daily — and on some days, hourly — that's understandable. Speaking with the Post on Sunday, Melania Trump's spokesperson Stephanie Grisham played down reports about Trump’s infidelity and said Melania “is focused on being a mom. She’s focused on being a wife, and she’s focused on her role as first lady. And that’s it. The rest is just noise.”
The next day, Melania generated some drama of her own. After announcing her pro-child initiative "Be Best," the first lady released a brochure under her byline about child safety online. The pamphlet appears to be copied from one circulated under the Obama administration.
This is at least the second incidence of the first lady lifting from the Obama era: Her speech at the Republican National Convention in summer 2016 was found to have several passages in common with Michelle Obama's 2008 Democratic convention address.