World / Politics

'We are fine': Melania Trump dismisses marriage gossip, hints about life in White House

AFP-JIJI

U.S. first lady Melania Trump on Friday dismissed the widespread talk about her husband’s reported affairs with a porn star and others, saying she has “more important things to think about.”

Addressing for the first time allegations that have swirled around President Donald Trump, she brushed off speculation that her marriage is troubled and insisted she loves life in the capital.

In a lengthy ABC television interview, she did not deny the many stories of her husband’s philandering. But she also made clear she does not dwell on them.

“It is not a concern and focus of mine,” she said. “I’m a mother and a first lady, and I have much more important things to think about and to do. I know people like to speculate, and media like to speculate, about our marriage. It’s not always pleasant, of course, but I know what is right and what is wrong, and what is true and not true.”

The interview, excerpts of which were released by ABC ahead of a full broadcast Friday evening, came after nearly two roller-coaster years in the White House during which Melania was frequently thought to be on the verge of breaking with Trump as one woman after another came forth claiming they had been paid to be quiet about their affairs with him.

But she gave no hint to ABC as to how the stories affected her.

Asked whether she loved her husband, she answered: “Yes, we are fine. It’s what media speculate, and it’s gossip. It’s not always correct stuff.”

In a White House known for its inability to keep secrets, the 48-year-old Slovenia-born former fashion model, Trump’s third wife, remains mysterious and impenetrable to the American public.

She gave the interview while she was on her first solo trip abroad, to Africa, where she sought to promote her humanitarian efforts and U.S. Agency for International Development projects.

Sitting in jodhpurs with a safari pith helmet at her side, she was poised and confident as she responded to uncomfortable questions on her personal life with the real estate billionaire.

She is not the first lady to suffer gossip about a president’s unfaithfulness. Hillary Clinton endured Bill Clinton’s dalliance with Monica Lewinsky in the Oval Office, and John F. Kennedy, president from 1961 to 1963, was a serial cheater on his wife, Jacqueline.

But Trump’s brash behavior has left his wife constantly under the Washington microscope, facing questions about whether she will leave him and move back to New York with their son, Barron.

She scoffed at such talk in the interview. “I am enjoying it. I really love to live in the Washington and the White House,” she said.

In Africa, she visited hospitals and schools and a wildlife park in Ghana, Malawi and Kenya, speaking to students and feeding a baby elephant, before stopping in Egypt to visit the Giza pyramids.

She hinted to ABC that life in the White House is not easy, dealing with people she doesn’t always trust. “You always need to watch your back,” she said.

She also explained one reason why she had made fighting cyberbullying a target of her “Be Best” campaign. “I could say I’m the most bullied person in the world,” she said, or “one of them, if you really see what people are saying about me.”

More comfortable facing a still camera than a microphone, Trump has taken much longer than most first ladies to open up to the media.

The interview came just over three weeks before the midterm elections, in which Trump’s record is expected to play a big part in how voters cast their ballots.

Also like past first ladies, Melania is constantly under the microscope for her fashion choices, which lean toward well-cut, refined but not flashy clothes from Ralph Lauren and French-American designer Herve Pierre.

She took heavy flack in June when she wore a $39 Zara jacket that had “I really don’t care, do u?” written on the back, as she embarked on a trip to the Mexican border to see immigrant children who had been separated from their parents under her husband’s much criticized policy.

The target of that message was unclear.

Donning a pith helmet during her Nairobi stop a week ago and then an “Indiana Jones”-style Panama hat while in Egypt, she also drew reprimands from fashion mavens for being “insensitive” to the continent’s colonial history.

Reporters should “talk about my trip and not what I wear,” she responded during the journey.