Where in the world is Melania Trump? The First Lady of the United States has been laying low since the New Year and there are fears that she’s gone into hiding to ride out the country’s government shutdown. Vanity Fair reports that aside from a tweet about the weather, Trump’s been radio silent and her representatives have simply stated that she’s taking time to work on her personal campaign and juggle the White House calendar for 2019.
What she’s not doing is coordinating tours of the White House, one of her previous responsibilities. Why? There are currently no tours of the White House thanks to the government shutdown. But the lack of visibility in the beginning of the year is Melania’s M.O. Last year, she didn’t make an appearance until Jan. 30 at President Trump’s State of the Union address. It’s most likely that she stayed out of the spotlight early last year because it was around the same time that the Wall Street Journal reported that Michael Cohen paid Stormy Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet about an alleged affair with Donald Trump.
According to the Express, a spokesperson for Melania told the Washington Postthat Melania’s staff has been cut. Her usual staff has gone from 10 employees to five. Additionally, the White House’s residence staff — a team that provides for the first family in addition to maintaining the White House property — went from 79 to 21. Maybe part of Melania’s reclusiveness has to do with scrambling to make sure everything gets done with fewer staffers around?
Stephanie Grisham, Melania’s spokesperson, also noted that the First Lady is using the shutdown to plan ahead for her campaign, Be Best, which could be taking up much of her time.
“We are in the planning phase for 2019 in terms of Be Best and annual functions at the White House,” Grisham said.
If Melania is waiting for the State of the Union to make a triumphant return to the public sphere, she may be out of luck. In a letter earlier this week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi requested that the event be postponed, since the government shutdown means that the usual security details required for “a special security event” won’t be able to operate. Instead, she asked the president to submit his speech in writing.