Melania tip toes into the spotlight: Enigmatic former first lady is ‘easing into the Trump campaign’ after her absence fueled rumors their marriage was on the rocks

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Written By Maya Cantina
  • Aloof and enigmatic, the Slovenian-born former model has been noticeably absent as husband Donald Trump makes his third bid for the White House 
  • Recent appearances however indicate that the former model is now ‘easing’ her way into the Trump campaign, according to one expert
  • Her absences are unusual in the US, where the norm is that politicians’ spouses show solidarity in times of crisis, with Trump back in court on Monday  

Melania Trump is said to be ‘easing into the Trump campaign’ after her absence sparked rumors that their marriage was on the rocks. 

Aloof and enigmatic, the Slovenian-born former model has been noticeably absent as husband Donald Trump makes his third bid for the White House.

Nor has she attended any court hearings with her husband as he navigates a myriad of cases. His first criminal trial begins on Monday, and her plans remain unclear.

 

The trial revolves around allegations that Trump falsified business records to cover up an alleged sexual encounter he had with porn star Stormy Daniels.

The 53-year-old was left ‘humiliated’ by Trump’s alleged affair with Daniels, according to one of her former aides. 

Aloof and enigmatic, the Slovenian-born former model has been noticeably absent as husband Donald Trump makes his third bid for the White House

Her absences are unusual in the US, where the norm is that politicians' spouses show solidarity in times of crisis which has fueled rumors about the couple's relationship

Her absences are unusual in the US, where the norm is that politicians’ spouses show solidarity in times of crisis which has fueled rumors about the couple’s relationship

Trump, left, arrives with Melania Trump for a GOP fundraiser, Saturday, April 6, 2024, in Palm Beach

Trump, left, arrives with Melania Trump for a GOP fundraiser, Saturday, April 6, 2024, in Palm Beach

In early April, Melania Trump accompanied her husband to a major fundraising event at which Republicans raised more than $50 million for his presidential campaign.

And on April 20, she is to take part in a fundraiser for a group of LGBTQ conservatives, the so-called Log Cabin Republicans.

It is hard to tell whether the former first lady is starting to make minimal appearances in order to cut short speculation about the couple or out of a desire to help her spouse win back the White House in November.

For Katherine Jellison, a history professor at Ohio University and specialist in presidential couples, the fundraiser appearances illustrate a significant shift by Melania Trump.

‘These are only a few appearances, but they seem to be signs that she is easing her way back into public life — and into the Trump campaign,’ Jellison told AFP.

Melania Trump herself had hinted at such a comeback in a very brief exchange with journalists in mid-March.

‘Stay tuned,’ she said with a smile, wearing large dark glasses.

According to Jellison, the former first lady might prefer events like the ones she’s attending in April.

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, right, waves to the crowd during the Human Rights Campaign's

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, right, waves to the crowd during the Human Rights Campaign’s ‘Equality in Action’ event on Friday, April 12, 2024

Trump stands onstage with  Melania, after announcing that he will once again run for U.S. president in the 2024 election

Trump stands onstage with  Melania, after announcing that he will once again run for U.S. president in the 2024 election 

In November, Melania Trump appeared at Rosalynn Carter's funeral along with fellow first ladies Michelle Obama, Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton

In November, Melania Trump appeared at Rosalynn Carter’s funeral along with fellow first ladies Michelle Obama, Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton

‘She seems most comfortable doing these events rather than the more typical campaign activities for a political spouse — shaking hands and making small talk with a crowd of voters,’ Jellison said.

That style, she believes, is more suited to Jill Biden, whose husband, President Joe Biden, is Donald Trump’s Democratic rival in the November election.

Jill Biden regularly crisscrosses the country, unafraid to venture into hotly disputed states. And in early March, she launched an initiative to mobilize women voters.

Melania Trump on the other hand has not had an easy time with her previous major public appearances.

Her speech to the 2016 Republican nominating convention was ridiculed, and not without merit: Entire passages were lifted from a speech by former first lady Michelle Obama.

She also faced criticism on trips undertaken as first lady, notably when she visited newly arrived migrant children in a shelter near the border with Mexico.

Former President Donald Trump, right, stands with Melania Trump, second from right, as they are greeted by John Paulson, left, and Alina de Almeida, second from left, at a GOP fundraiser

Former President Donald Trump, right, stands with Melania Trump, second from right, as they are greeted by John Paulson, left, and Alina de Almeida, second from left, at a GOP fundraiser

Melania Trump had an event for Log Cabin Republicans at Mar-a-Lago in November 2021

Melania Trump had an event for Log Cabin Republicans at Mar-a-Lago in November 2021 

She wore a jacket with the message ‘I really don’t care. Do U?’ written on the back. She since has been sparing and cautious in her public appearances.

She did emerge from her silence in a rare interview in 2018. When asked about her husband’s presumed infidelity with porn star Stormy Daniels, she assured the questioner that she had ‘much more important things to think about.’

It was the hush money payments Donald Trump authorized to the adult-film actress, shortly before the 2016 election, that led to his first criminal trial.

Jury selection starts Monday in New York. With Melania or not, the ex-president is expected to be in attendance.

Trump is facing 34 felony counts and if convicted, could face up to four years in prison for each of the 34 charges against him.

It’s more likely, however, that the 77-year-old would face probation due to him being a first-time offender in the state. 

Melania kisses Trump after delivering a speech on the first day of the Republican National Convention on July 18, 2016

Melania kisses Trump after delivering a speech on the first day of the Republican National Convention on July 18, 2016

Donald and Melania Trump arrive for the official launch of the Trump 2020 campaign at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida on June 18, 2019

Donald and Melania Trump arrive for the official launch of the Trump 2020 campaign at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida on June 18, 2019

Daniels in 2018 told 60 Minutes, she met Trump at an event in Nevada in 2006 and he invited her to dinner.

She said she met him at his hotel suite where they had sex. Daniels said Trump later invited her to other events in New York and California.

Prosecutors claim that Trump’s fixer Michael Cohen wired Daniels’ lawyer $130,000 to keep her quiet about their encounters.

Trump denies having an affair with Daniels. At a press conference in Mar-a-Lago on Friday, he said: ”It’s a scam. That’s not a trial. That’s a scam’.’

He said he would testify just as the judge declined to delay the trial because of the huge amount of publicity surrounding the case.

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