WASHINGTON: First Lady Melania Trump made a very visible return to the public stage Tuesday after weeks of privacy, as she attended her husband’s maiden State of the Union address before Congress.
The enigmatic wife of President Donald Trump emerged publicly for the first time since she fed the Washington rumour mill by cancelling her trip to Davos, Switzerland, leaving her husband to attend last week’s World Economic Forum on his own.
A smiling and waving Melania arrived in the chamber to warm and extended applause – dressed in a crisp cream white pantsuit that stood in contrast to the black donned by many Democratic lawmakers in solidarity with the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment.
Minutes later, her husband took the floor and exchanged waves with his wife.
Among Trumps’ guests in the first lady’s box was a US Marine corporal who stepped on an explosive device and lasts both legs while deployed in Iraq in 2007; first responders who helped save hurricane victims in Louisiana and Texas, and parents of children killed by the gang MS-13.
In what would be a break with tradition, Melania Trump reportedly travelled separately to the US Capitol and not in the presidential limousine.
As the 47-year-old wife of a 71-year-old man known for past lewd remarks about women, and who divorced his two previous wives in a blaze of tabloid publicity, Melania Trump is dogged by speculation that they lead largely separate lives.
The State of the Union speech was the first lady’s first major appearance since bombshell reports that her husband allegedly had a fling with porn star Stormy Daniels in 2006.
Trump stands accused of paying off Daniels one month before the November 2016 election to keep their adulterous liaison quiet.
Daniels was set to appear Tuesday on late-night ABC talk show “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
“Relaxing before the big night,” Daniels wrote Tuesday on Instagram. It was not clear if she was referring to Trump’s speech or her appearance with Kimmel.
Melania, her opinions, and goals have remained a mystery to millions of Americans.
She is a former model who once posed nude in her husband’s private jet and the first foreign-born wife of a US president in nearly 200 years.
She spent her first months as a first lady living in New York and refused to move to the White House until their young son Barron finished the school year.
She makes few public speeches and is rarely seen in Washington.