Melania’s Absence Raises Questions about Her Role
Washington: When President Trump travelled to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware this week to pay respects to a fallen member of the Navy SEALs, it was his daughter Ivanka — not his wife, Melania, who accompanied him. Melania’s conspicuous absence at the solemn ceremony only underscored the fact that she vanished from public view days after her husband’s swearing-in two weeks ago. And it raised new questions about what role, if any, she plans to play as first lady.
Melania. Trump shattered decades of tradition when she decided last year that shewouldnotmoveintotheWhiteHouse whenherhusbandtookoffice,andwould remain instead in the family’s lavish Manhattan penthouse.
It was not until Wednesday that she named Lindsay Reynolds, who worked in the White House under President George W Bush, as her chief of staff, a position that most first ladies fill before Inauguration Day. She has still not filled other crucial positions, including social secretaryandcommunicationsdirector.
Unanswered requests for White House tours, traditionally run by the first lady’s office, have been piling up by the thousands, according to people familiar with the process. It is not clear how much planning has gone into the elaborate White House events that are among the heaviest tasks for first ladies, such as the annual Easter Egg Roll, which draws 35,000 attendees. “She is far behind the curve compared to where modern first ladies have been by the time their husbands are inaugurated, in a quite unprecedented way,” said Myra Gutin, a professor at Rider University who specialises in first ladies. “We are in uncharted territory here.”
After announcing her chief of staff on Wednesday, Melania on Thursday chose an interior designer, Tham Kannalikham, to overhaul the White House private quarters. In the coming days, she plans to announce the hiring of Natalie Jones as her social secretary, and Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, the former director of Fashion Week at Lincoln Center as her senior adviser.
But for now, the lack of staff has deprived Melania Trump of control over her image, leading to speculation about everything from her state of mind to her moving date.