Are you fixating, like many Americans, on the exact state of the marriage of President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump? Here’s something new to chew on: He trumped her when it came to deciding how to furnish the White House family quarters.
No pun intended: On Friday, the New York Times published an anecdote from the first half of 2017, when the president was living solo at the White House and Melania remained in New York while son Barron, 12, finished his school year.
The newspaper reported that while she was still living in New York the first lady had selected some furniture for the residence that was in keeping with her taste: clean and modern.
“Yet in her absence, President Trump — whose tastes veer toward the gilded, triumphal style of Louis XIV — replaced her choices with several pieces he liked better,” the Times reported. “One of two people familiar with the episode cited it as an example of Mr. Trump’s tendency not to relent on even the smallest requests from his wife.”
During the transition, tongues wagged over whether the gilt-loving president-elect would impose his taste on the White House.
The piece, bearing the headline “Melania Trump, a Mysterious First Lady, Weathers a Chaotic White House,” went on further to describe her as “a Rorschach test for public perceptions” of the Trump White House. Depending on whom you ask, she’s either a quietly loyal helpmate (as his supporters maintain) or a prisoner in a gilded cage who occasionally breaks out to lob subtle digs at Donald (a theory held by the president’s critics).
The first lady’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, has gone to some lengths over the last 18 months to dismiss the latter view and bolster the former. She insists that her boss is independent, knows her own mind, and is undeterred by criticism of either herself or her husband.
Furthermore, Grisham notes, the furniture fracas story is just more fake news, using one of the president’s favorite expressions. The redecoration of the White House family quarters, which is routine with each new administration, was a joint husband-and-wife effort, she said.
“They both chose the décor,” she confirmed to USA TODAY.
The Times profile attempted to provide more detail about the state of the Trump marriage, and quotes some people in a position to know.
(One unsourced tidbit: They maintain separate bedrooms in the White House and when they travel. The degree to which this is unusual for presidential couples is unmentioned. But just for comparison: Bess Truman, the first lady to President Harry Truman, spent a great deal of her time back home in Missouri during his nearly eight years in office.)
Melania Trump is described as the “strongest voice” in her husband’s orbit, Thomas J. Barrack Jr., an old friend of the president, told the Times. “He listens to her more intently than anyone and respects her advice and counsel not only because she is his wife, but because her loyalty, grace, trust, elegance under fire, intellect and instincts are time-tested and proven.”
The first lady’s decision to travel solo to the president’s first State of the Union address in January was said to have been borne out of anger over reports he’d tried to cover up an affair with porn star Stormy Daniels that allegedly took place soon after she gave birth to Barron in 2006. Melania’s explanation? She wanted to personally escort her special guests to the Capitol.
“The president’s allies say he remains concerned about her reaction whenever headlines about his extramarital behaviors crop up, and he has told friends he feels guilty about the criticism she has faced,” the Times reported.
In private, the two seem to at least like one another but they’re not particularly warm, the profile claimed, adding, “One person who has spent a considerable amount of time around her said Mrs. Trump was far more relaxed outside the presence of her husband than when he was around.”
According to close friend Karen LeFrak, the wife of real estate developer Richard LeFrak, Melania is “a woman of grit, never afraid to speak her mind.”
She continued, “I’ve seen how she handles her role as first lady with the same finesse and care as she uses in her friendships — always quality over quantity.”
The Times ended its story with a show of unity from the first couple.
During an event held during their recent working vacation at the Trump golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, Melania praised her husband, saying, “I just want to thank the president for doing an incredible job and for all of your help.”
Read or Share this story: https://usat.ly/2nKoNu9