Melania Had 'Power Struggle' in WH With More Than One Trump

Book on America's first ladies features numerous nuggets on her private clashes with Donald, Ivanka
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 28, 2024 7:45 AM CST
Book: Melania, Trump Were Often a (White) 'House Divided'
First lady Melania Trump speaks to a small group of supporters as President Donald Trump looks on at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on Jan. 20, 2021.   (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)

A new book on contemporary US first ladies is out, and within its pages are some nuggets on Melania and Donald Trump's clashes while the latter was in the Oval Office. People notes that while Melania Trump "was always publicly supportive of her husband ... the two often felt frustrated behind the scenes," and it's all laid out in American Woman: The Transformation of the Modern First Lady, by New York Times White House correspondent Katie Rogers. Some snippets from Rogers' tome on the Trumps' showdowns:

  • White House decor: When they first moved into 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Melania began selecting furniture that aligned with her modern aesthetic—but her husband, who gravitates toward flashier, more ostentatious decor, "replaced her choices with several pieces he liked better," Rogers notes.

  • Cable news: Rogers writes that the Trumps were a "house divided" in terms of their TV programs of choice, with Donald Trump leaning toward Fox News, while Melania "voraciously" watched his nemesis network, CNN.
  • Political stances: Melania didn't always align with her husband's takes, and she sometimes offered less-divisive ones of her own, on matters ranging from the deadly Unite the Right rally in 2017 to Black athletes kneeling during the national anthem. "Her tweets were small gestures that amounted to little more than digital ephemera," Rogers writes. "Still, compared with her husband's bridge burners, Melania's missives established her as a rare figure in the Trump administration who seemed more interested in calming a cultural divide than widening it."
  • The Trump kids: Melania didn't think her husband's three oldest children should've been so deeply involved in the Trump administration, but "if she ever waged a battle over the issue, it is one she clearly lost," writes Rogers, per the New York Post.
  • Ivanka: The former first lady and first daughter in particular were locked in a four-year "internal power struggle" and "quiet competition for press coverage," with Ivanka apparently trying to muscle her way in to serve as a co-first lady of sorts, with her father's blessing. Rogers notes, "This was not a development that pleased [Melania]."
  • Jill Biden: Rogers' book also features a juicy item about ... the Bidens' sex life? Rogers writes that when Joe Biden decided not to run for president in 2004, he noted at the time, "I'd rather be at home making love to my wife while my children are asleep," per the Guardian. The president has also "joked to aides that 'good sex' is the key to a lasting and happy marriage, much to his wife's chagrin," Rogers notes.

More here, here, and here. (More Melania Trump stories.)

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