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Melania Trump interview: First lady says she was 'blindsided' by family separation policy in rare television appearance

In wide-ranging interview first lady talks about allegations of affairs by the president and the issue of trust in the White House

Chris Riotta
New York
,Chris Stevenson
Friday 12 October 2018 06:30 BST
Melania Trump says she was 'blindsided' and 'heartbroken' by family separation policy

Melania Trump has said that she was “blindsided” by the zero-tolerance immigration policy signed off by President Donald Trump that has led to the separation of immigrant families at the US border.

The first lady said that she was “heartbroken” by the removal of children from their parents and it us that that prompted an unannounced visit to the southern border earlier this year.

“I saw it on the news, and I reacted right away,” Ms Trump said in an interview for ABC News’ special Being Melania. “It was unacceptable for me to see children and parents separated. It was heartbreaking. And I reacted with my own voice.”

She made it clear to Mr Trump that the policy needed to change. ”I didn’t know that that policy would come out. I was blindsided by it. I told him at home, and I said to him that I feel that’s unacceptable, and he felt the same.“

It was on the border visit that Ms Trump was criticised for wearing a jacket with the words “I really don’t care, do u?” on the back. The first lady said that the jacket was aimed at the left-wing media who criticise her.

“It was kind of a message, yes. I would prefer that they focus on what I do and my initiatives than what I wear,” she said. “I want to show them that I don’t care. You could criticise whatever you want to say, but it will not stop me to do what I feel is right.”

Melania Trump on #MeToo movement: 'we need to have really hard evidence'

Ms Trump has also faced criticism over her anti-cyber bullying initiative, given the tone of Mr Trump’s Twitter feed. Pressed on the issue, the first lady said: “I could say that I’m the most bullied person in the world”.

The first lady said that the relationship between her and husband Donald Trump is “fine” and that she has “much more important things to think about” than allegations he cheated on her.

Ms Trump said she is “a mother and a first lady” and that allegations of her husband’s infidelities are not a “concern and focus.” Asked if she loves her husband, she says, “Yes, we are fine. Yes.”

Adult actor Stormy Daniels has alleged that she had sex with President Trump in 2006. Mr Trump has denied the allegation but has has acknowledged reimbursing his former lawyer Michael Cohen for a hush money payment made to her before the 2016 election.

Speaking about the wider #MeToo movement, given the fact her husband has been accused of sexual misconduct by the a number of women, the first lady said she supports both women and men but that they must present “really hard evidence”. Mr Trump has repeatedly denied all allegations against him.

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Ms Trump said that she was a “strong” woman who enjoys life in Washington DC – and it was a misconception to thing otherwise. However, she said that there have been, and still are, a number of people in the White House she does not trust.

“It’s harder to govern,” the first lady said, adding that she tells her husband her “honest opinions” – including about those who she does not trust. “You always need to watch your back,” she said.

To see how the day and interview unfolded see our live coverage below.

Please allow a moment for the liveblog to load.


Welcome to The Independent’s live coverage and analysis on Melania Trump’s major TV interview, which is part of the ABC News special “Being Melania: The First Lady” set to air Friday night at 10:00pm CT. 

Please allow for the live blog to load as updates arrive.

Chris Riotta12 October 2018 14:07

The upcoming interview is one of the most extensive discussions with Melania Trump since she became first lady in 2016. 

She discussed her president’s alleged affairs, why she was inclined to tackle cyberbullying as part of her "Be Best" initiative and her views on Donald Trump’s tenure as president. 

Chris Riotta12 October 2018 14:09

While discussing her “Be Best” initiative, which tackles cyberbullying while focusing on youth wellbeing, Melania Trump said she was “the most bullied person in the world.” 

ABC News chief national affairs correspondent Tom Llamas seemed taken aback by the statement. “You’re really the most bullied person in the world?” He asked the first lady. 

“One of them,” she said, “if you really see what people saying about me”. 

Chris Riotta12 October 2018 14:20

The first lady also discussed the #MeToo movement and her thoughts on sexual assault after Brett Kavanaugh’s historic and controversial Supreme Court confirmation battle.

Melanie Trump told ABC News survivors of assault should provide “really hard evidence” of what happened in order to be believed. 

“We need to have really hard evidence that if you’re accused of something, show the evidence,” she said. “I do stand with women. But we need to show the evidence.”

Chris Riotta12 October 2018 14:30

Here's everything we know so far from Melania Trump's major TV interview from Africa, her first solo international trip as first lady. 

Chris Riotta12 October 2018 14:40

Melania Trump’s extensive interview with ABC News wasn’t the only thing to stir headlines during her visit to Africa. 

The first lady once again caused controversy by her fashion choices, opting to wear a white pith helmet despite its associations to colonial rule across the continent. 

Chris Riotta12 October 2018 14:50

In a clip that aired before Friday night’s special on the first lady, Melania Trump told ABC News there were several members of her husband’s administration who she did not trust — including people who continue to work in the White House. 

Chris Riotta12 October 2018 15:00

Melania Trump tweeted these photos of her trip to Africa — her first solo international visit as first lady — ahead of ABC News’ special Friday night titled “Being Melania: The First Lady.” 

The first lady spoke to ABC News during her trip throughout the continent. 

Chris Riotta12 October 2018 15:10

Here’s video of the moment Melania Trump tells ABC News she believed she’s “the most bullied person in the world.” 

The first lady also discussed her “Be Best” initiative, which focuses on cyberbullying and social wellbeing for the youth.

Chris Riotta12 October 2018 15:20

ABC News has released this teaser of the network’s special “Being Melania: The First Lady” 

The special — and accompanying exclusive interview from the first lady’s trip to Africa — were scheduled to air Friday night. 

Chris Riotta12 October 2018 15:30

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