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In Sickness And In Stealth: Melania Trump Shrinks From Limelight

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In Sickness And In Stealth: Melania Trump Shrinks From Limelight

Melania Trump skipped her husband’s fiery post-arraignment speech.

Washington, United States:

Donald Trump has been forced to sit quietly in court twice in recent weeks to hear felony charges leveled against him and on both occasions has sought solace in the company of family, friends and his devoted followers.

But one high-profile supporter of the Republican former president has been conspicuous by her absence: his wife, Melania.

Trump gave himself up to US Marshals in Miami on Tuesday to be arraigned on a slew of federal charges over his alleged mishandling of government secrets since leaving the White House.

The ex-president took a sizable entourage — the motorcade to the courthouse was made up of six SUVs — and crowds of Trump loyalists converged with brightly colored banners and messages of solidarity.

But his wife was nowhere to be seen, raising eyebrows among Trump-watchers by declining to accompany him to the courthouse or even release a supportive statement from a distance.

“Americans are used to seeing political wives literally standing by their men in times of scandal and crisis,” said Katherine Jellison, a history professor at Ohio University who specializes in US first ladies.

“So Melania’s physical absence during her husband’s recent public appearances is particularly noticeable.”

Ivory tower

The former first lady had been pictured leaving Trump Tower as he was flying from his summer home in New Jersey to Florida a day earlier and making her way to various appointments around Manhattan, flanked by her Secret Service detail.

She was also absent when Trump was processed in a Manhattan court in April, on more than 30 felony counts of misrepresenting hush money payments to buy a porn star’s silence over an alleged sexual encounter.

And the 53-year-old Slovenian skipped her husband’s fiery post-arraignment speech back at the couple’s Mar-a-Lago beach club in Florida, despite living there, and despite her own father having taken his place in the front row.

Trump paid tribute to his family but didn’t mention his wife, reheating speculation over the couple’s “transactional” marriage raised in 2020 by ex-Vogue magazine executive and former Melania confidante Stephanie Winston Wolkoff.

Melania Trump’s office released a cryptic statement days later cautioning readers to be wary of news articles about her based on “unnamed sources… cited to bolster the author’s claims.”

After Trump learned last Thursday that he had been indicted for a second time, he dined at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey and, according to several New York media outlets, played his favorite tunes from a DJ booth at the clubhouse.

Melania had been pictured by The New York Post going into Trump Tower in Manhattan hours earlier, and did not take the 90-minute drive to join her husband.

The office of the former first lady — who married Trump in 2005 — did not respond to AFP’s request for comment, but Wolkoff told celebrity gossip outfit Page Six that Melania’s silence was her way of retaining her dignity.

“Melania lives in an ivory tower of denial… Her silence is deliberate, it is her weapon of choice and her protective armor,” Wolkoff said.

‘She doesn’t care’

Trump appeared to anticipate Melania’s absence from Tuesday’s arraignment as he referred to her apparent insouciance in a pre-arraignment interview on long-time ally Roger Stone’s radio show.

“She made a tremendous amount of money — she was very successful as a model — and in a very low key way, she doesn’t care that much,” he said.

“She’s got an attitude that’s amazing, she’s got a tremendous heart. But she takes things for what they are and she’s just a very confident person.”

The former first lady’s low profile this week provided a split-screen moment as Ron DeSantis, the Florida governor Trump’s closest rival in the Republican presidential nomination contest, toured Oklahoma with his wife Casey rarely far from his side.

The 42-year-old former TV host has been touted as her husband’s secret weapon, delighting supporters with her easy charm and even being talked up as a potential political star in her own right.

“With their long dark hair and attention-grabbing wardrobes, the two women somewhat resemble one another physically. But the comparisons stop there,” said Jellison, the history professor.

“Mrs DeSantis is an eager and highly visible campaigner for her husband. She is at least as interested in her husband’s political career as he is,” he added. “Mrs Trump, at least at this stage in her life, appears not to be eager or interested in helping her husband’s political career.”

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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