What next for Melania Trump?

The outgoing first lady’s plans include documenting White House renovations and continuing her anti-bullying campaign

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Tuesday 19 January 2021 19:30

Related video: A look back over Melania Trump’s time in the White House

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As the minutes tick down to her White House departure, First Lady Melania Trump has been determinedly focused on a future away from Washington DC.

And while the president has been bitter in election defeat and refused to concede to president-elect Joe Biden, the first lady has reportedly been accepting of the results, and packing to leave 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for weeks.

The Trump family will take a final trip on Air Force One on Wednesday, heading to a new life at their Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach, Florida.  Neither the president nor first lady will attend the inauguration, making them a rare exception to tradition. 

Melania Trump is intending to step out of the spotlight, according to reports, and focus on settling Barron, her and the president’s son, into his new school. 

Her parents, Viktor And Amalija Knavs, who have been nearby during her time in the White House, are said to also be relocating to Palm Beach.  

The former first lady’s next chapters are said to include documenting her White House renovations and redesign of the Rose Garden.

She is also arranging for the continuation of her “Be Best” initiative, a cyber-bullying project that was mocked due to her husband’s very public harassment of individuals on social media and more recently, his incitement of violence at the Capitol. 

The first lady is also apparently intent on planning her husband’s presidential library, according to The Washington Post, which could lead to fireworks within the Trump clan.

“The library location has not even been scouted yet, but Ivanka has made her interest clear,” a source told the Post. “As usual, Melania will have to contend with the other family members.”

With much of the family decamping to Florida - Ivanka and her husband Jared have reportedly splashed $30million on a plot in Miami - it’s thought that the Sunshine State will also be home to the Trump library.

And the first lady has apparently tried to convince Mr Trump to end his “stop the steal” campaign that baselessly alleged widespread voter fraud.

Former Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway told the Post that Ms Trump was against a protracted challenge to the election results as well as the 6 January rally on the Ellipse, close to the White House grounds. She was the only family member not present, Ms Conway said.

Ms Trump’s silence in the days following the Capitol insurrection was widely criticised, with first ladies traditionally acting to soothe tensions and call for unity. 

Given the magnitude of the violence, in which five people died including a police officer, her belated statement came across as oddly self-absorbed with its complaints about “salacious gossip”.

“I find it shameful that surrounding these tragic events there has been salacious gossip, unwarranted personal attacks, and false misleading accusations on me – from people who are looking to be relevant and have an agenda,” she wrote.

Ms Trump has also refused to meet incoming first lady, Dr Jill Biden, at the White House but reportedly has been working with Chief Usher Timothy Harleth to facilitate the move.

The lack of communication between the outgoing and incoming first families and lapse in traditional protocols was described as “unfortunate” by Ashley Biden, daughter of the President-elect in an interview with NBC’s Today Show.

One of Ms Trump’s final acts as first lady was the release of a statement honouring American craftsmanship and highlighting the renovations and restorations she oversaw.

Reports suggest the possibility of Ms Trump publishing a coffee table book depicting the changes made to the executive mansion during the Trump years.

Other projects included the completion of a new tennis pavilion, the announcement of which was poorly-timed given the coronavirus pandemic raging across the country.

The news was met by a harsh backlash on social media questioning the timing, appropriateness, and extravagance of the project during a national emergency in which so many Americans are struggling. There were inevitable comparisons to Marie Antoinette. 

Ms Trump hit back at the criticism, urging people to contribute to their own communities rather than being negative. The AP reported that the project had been ongoing since 2018 and was paid for by private donations.

In a final video message, aired on Monday, Ms Trump asked all Americans to be an ambassador for “Be Best”.

“To focus on what unites us. To rise above what divides us. To always choose love over hatred, peace over violence, and others before yourself,” the first lady said.

Ms Trump is preparing for her White House exit by reviving her dormant personal Twitter account, which has been retweeting her posts from the official account of the first lady that she has been using for the past four years.

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