‘Free Melania’ Offers New Details About US First Lady

US First Lady Melania Trump boards a plane at Andrews Air Force Base for a three state overnight trip in Maryland.  AFP

 

Melania Trump has a White House suite of her own, is less than chummy with first daughter Ivanka, and uses her wardrobe to make statements, a new biography about the US first lady says.

“Free, Melania,” an unauthorized look at President Donald Trump‘s wife by CNN reporter Kate Bennett, is set for release on Tuesday, but official Washington is already buzzing about its contents.

At 49, and three years into her husband’s administration, the Slovenia-born ex-model remains genuinely private and “mysterious” to much of the public, while acutely aware of all that is said about her and her husband, says Bennett.

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But she is hardly the docile third wife of an extremely powerful man accused of being a serial womanizer, the author writes.

Instead, Melania is prepared to let her husband know what she thinks — and to use her sharp elbows when she feels slighted.

The first lady is “way more powerful and influential with her husband” than the public knows, Bennett says.

The author confirms reports last year that Melania was responsible for the firing of a senior White House national security official, Mira Ricardel, after the first lady felt slighted during a October 2018 trip to Africa.

The book also confirms that the first lady lives in a two-room suite on the third floor of the White House — one floor up from the president’s master bedroom.

The suite offers Melania extra space to do her hair and makeup. She also has an exercise room with a Pilates machine.

In another revelation, Bennett said the kidney treatment that led to Melania’s 25-day absence from public view last year was much more serious and painful than previously revealed.

The language of fashion 

While she speaks little in public, Melania finds her voice in her clothes, Bennett says.

That was clear when she donned an olive green Zara coat in June 2018 with the words “I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?” on the back.

Some thought it was an attack on President Trump’s policies toward migrant children, and by others as a brickbat for the press.

But Bennett says it in fact was directed at step-daughter Ivanka Trump, who Melania sees as sometimes usurping the first lady’s role.

Their relationship is described in the book as “cordial, not close.”

Bennett also says that when Melania wears pantsuits and other menswear styles, it signals unhappiness with her husband, “because Trump notoriously likes to see women in tight, short, ubersexy and feminine dresses.”

“Each thing she does has meaning to it, even the clothing she wears,” writes Bennett.

The book does not have any direct input from Melania, whose husband has declared Bennett’s network an enemy of his administration.

It labels the first lady’s “Be Best” campaign against bullying a poorly executed flop, but otherwise is generally positive.

Bennett, whose beat is first lady and the Trump family, appears to be deeply sympathetic to Melania, who is often painted as a prisoner of her husband by his critics.

That view spawned the online meme “Free Melania” — and inspired the book’s more cryptically punctuated title.

“She doesn’t need freeing of any kind,” says Bennett.

AFP

Melania In Egypt To Visit Pyramids On Final Leg Of Tour

US First Lady Melania Trump walks (C-L) walks with her Egyptian counterpart Intissar Amer (C-R) upon arrival at Cairo International Airport in Cairo, October 6, 2018, for the final stop on the former’s 4-country tour through Africa. PHOTO: DOUG MILLS / POOL / AFP

 

US First Lady Melania Trump arrived in Egypt on Saturday on the final leg of a solo four-nation tour of Africa that will see her visit the Pyramids.

The low-key tour, during which she has made no comment to reporters, has contrasted with the political tumult back home where her husband was set to score a big political win on Saturday after days of acrimonious deadlock inside and outside the Senate over his Supreme Court pick.

The former model stepped off the plane at Cairo international airport wearing high-waisted white pants, a pleated white shirt and a dark tie with a beige jacket slung over her shoulders.

She was welcomed by Egyptian First Lady Intissar Amer al-Sisi, an observant Muslim who wore an ankle-length blue dress and matching headscarf covering her hair.

Looking relaxed, Melania Trump beamed at the flower girls before heading to the airport’s VIP lounge for formal photographs.

On the previous leg of her tour in Kenya, her choice of a white colonial-style pith helmet while on safari drew some criticism on Twitter, with one person comparing her look to that of a “colonial administrator”.

In Egypt, tight security was in place across the capital for her visit which comes as security forces face a persistent jihadist insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula across the Suez Canal to the northeast.

During her whistlestop five-hour stay, the US First Lady was scheduled to visit the Pyramids of Giza and the new National Museum under construction next door.

Melania Trump, who is in Africa to promote her children’s welfare programme, began her trip in Ghana, where she visited mothers and their newborns, and toured a former slave trading fort.

She then made a brief stop in Malawi where she toured a primary school.

On Thursday, her husband tweeted: “Our country’s great First Lady, Melania, is doing really well in Africa. The people love her, and she loves them! It is a beautiful thing to see.”

The US Senate is expected to give President Donald Trump a big political win later on Saturday by confirming conservative judge Brett Kavanaugh as the next Supreme Court justice.

Washington has been gripped by high drama and emotion for days, from the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford — who accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault — to protests against his nomination which saw more than 300 arrests, including celebrities.

AFP

Melania Trump To Visit Ghana,Kenya And Other African Countries Next Month

US First Lady Melania Trump at the US Mission to the United Nations in New York on September 26, 2018. MANDEL NGAN / AFP

US First Lady Melania Trump on Wednesday announced that she would visit Ghana, Malawi, Kenya, and Egypt next week, kicking off her first major international solo trip to promote child welfare and education.

Trump, 48, made the announcement at a reception welcoming spouses of visiting heads of state and other foreign delegations on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

“October 1 will mark the first day of my solo visit to four beautiful and very different countries in Africa: Ghana, Malawi, Kenya, and Egypt,” she said.

Trump said those countries had worked alongside the US Agency for International Development, with whom she has been organizing her trip, in making “great progress in overcoming some of their biggest challenges.”

She said that she was looking forward to taking with her the message of her signature initiative, “Be Best,” which she set up with the goal of focusing on children’s well-being, as well as social media use and opioid abuse.

“I am so proud of the work this administration is doing through USAID and others, and look forward to the opportunity to take the message of my Be Best campaign to many of the countries and children throughout Africa,” she added.

“Whether it is education, drug addiction, hunger, online safety or bullying, poverty or disease, it is too often children who are hit first and hardest across the globe.”

The first ladies of Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi attended the reception, as did the wives of US Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Sara Netanyahu, the wife of the Israeli prime minister, was also there.

‘Love Africa’

Trump thanked, in turn, the first ladies of Ghana, Malawi, and Kenya, saying how much she was looking forward to visiting their countries. She did not say how long her visit would take.

In Ghana, she said USAID programs have focused on healthcare; in Malawi, on education as the key to combating poverty; and in Kenya on programs including early childhood education, wildlife preservation, and HIV prevention.

US President Donald Trump and Melania hosted Kenyan leader Uhuru Kenyatta and his wife at the White House last month.

In Egypt, the US first lady’s final stop, she will highlight tourism and preservation projects as well as issues concerning women and religious minorities.

“Each of us hails from a country with its own unique challenges, but I know in my heart we are united by our commitment to raising the next generation to be happy, healthy and morally responsible adults,” Trump told the reception.

Her husband has yet to travel to Africa in office and fanned major controversy at the start of the year for allegedly disparaging “shithole” countries on the continent.

Earlier on Wednesday Donald Trump trailed his wife’s announcement, saying “we both love Africa. Africa is so beautiful.”

In September 2017, the mother of one and the Slovenian-born former model went alone to Toronto, where she met Britain’s Prince Harry and attended the opening ceremony of games he organizes for disabled and wounded veterans.

Melania Trump has also accompanied the US president on visits to Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

The White House said the trip would take place in the first week of October, and focus on maternal and newborn care in hospitals, education for children, the culture and history of each country, and how the United States is supporting them on their journey to self-reliance.

AFP