First lady Melania Trump, like those before her, has battled the vast juxtaposition between public perception and private citizen. And she remains, three years into her tenure, one of the most mysterious, quiet and press wary first ladies – warm at times, stone-faced at others.
Despite being married to a reality star husband who can hardly bear to walk by a pack of reporters without saying something – or let a morning go by without a tweet – Melania Trump has fought against the stereotype that she is aloof, detached, even “trapped” in the White House, as the hashtag #FreeMelania, which spawned memes, suggested.
She has also proven she knows how to command the spotlight (remember that white hat?), use silence to her advantage and press forward as the spouse of one of the most controversial presidents in American history. Melania Trump’s flares of independence, crossing from private to public, have also set her apart, and certainly suggest she doesn’t need freeing of any kind.
Details of what really went on behind-the-scenes of all of these episodes and events are outlined in “Free, Melania: The Unauthorized Biography,” in bookstores today. It reveals the fact that Melania Trump keeps her own separate bedroom in the White House residence, along with many other takeaways and anecdotes about Trump, who remains in many ways as mysterious and private three years in as she did on her first day on the job.
Her most telltale moments reveal hints of her notoriously private personal side. That hand swat on the tarmac in Tel Aviv, Israel, meant to express a quick flick of anger. Or the nudge with her elbow to Trump from the Truman balcony before the White House Easter Egg Roll, when the President was a tad slow to put his hand over his heart for the National Anthem.
She’s used fashion, too, cultivating looks that bring the focus to her strong sense of style – a penchant for almost armour-like coats and coat dresses, with strong shoulders, belts at the waist, in colours ranging from navy to pink to military green.
Here are a few new revelations about Melania Trump reported in the new book:
Her own sleeping quarters
Melania Trump has her own quarters in the White House. The executive residence isn’t small – about 30,000 square feet of the entire 55,000 square feet of the entire White House – but it can feel that way when you live there for a while.
Not only can the first family not even open a window without permission from the Secret Service, they can’t walk around the lawn without causing a perimeter shut down, or fuss with the thermostat (even the temperature is regulated for security.)
But one thing Melania Trump has managed to carve out is her own space. It is true the first couple don’t share a bedroom, according to several sources, and the first lady prefers her own large, private space in a suite of rooms on a separate floor.
How much power does she have?
Melania Trump is way more powerful and influential with her husband than you might think.
Remember last year, when Trump called for the ouster of one of her husband’s senior national security advisers?
Mira Ricardel had tangled with the first lady’s staff during her Africa trip and Trump wanted her to be dismissed from the White House. When the President was slow to act on her request, the first lady simply – and unprecedentedly – put out a statement.
“It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that (Ricardel) no longer deserves the honour of serving in this White House,” it read.
A day later, Ricardel was out. Melania Trump proved she could successfully shake up West Wing staffing. Trump, according to a source familiar, weighs in often on her husband’s decisions, both politically and in the way he manages his staff. She has frequent, opinionated discussions with him, often times more than once a day, via telephone, according to the source.
She is, more obviously, influential in the East Wing, too. It was Melania Trump’s decision to terminate the White House’s chief usher, who Michelle Obama had hired.
About that speech …
After her speech at the Republican National Convention, which included parts from a speech given by Michelle Obama, Melania Trump was beside herself with guilt, according to a source familiar.
The speechwriter was a Trump Organisation staffer hardly versed in the ways of political campaign speeches who had lifted lines from Obama’s roaring success of speech eight years prior.
Not only did Melania Trump feel badly for her speechwriter, she also felt she had let down her husband on what should have been her most triumphant speaking engagement to date.
The truth was, sources conclude, it was Donald Trump that let down Melania Trump. A skeleton staff of political neophytes neglected to read Melania Trump’s speech, much less vet it for content.
Two first ladies?
Melania Trump’s relationship with Ivanka Trump isn’t as chummy as it was pre-White House, according to friends and former White House sources.
Although a White House spokesperson says the two women are “fine,” and “supportive of one another,” behind the scenes, the unprecedented nature of a first daughter involved in some of the similar activities usually relegated to a first lady has caused drama, other sources say.
Whether it’s the way in which they handle their social media, or how one steps into the spotlight when the other isn’t around, there are cracks in the façade of the sunny ties between the two women closest and most influential to the President.
A first dog?
The Trumps actually did think about getting a family dog for the White House, according to a source familiar with the discussion.
Despite being famously not-a-fan of pets, Trump would have acquiesced had Melania Trump’s plan to get a pet for their son come to fruition.
She even went so far as to investigate breeds, and consider how to care for a presidential pooch – something of a tradition for more than three decades of first families. But they ultimately decided against the move.