These stories are true, but Washington Post reporter Mary Jordan reveals in a new book that the first lady also used her late arrival at the White House as a lever to negotiate her marriage agreement with President Trump.
The campaign had been full of hard news about Trump’s alleged sexual indiscretions and infidelity, from “take them in p — y” Get access to the Hollywood band to a deal with Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal; Melania learned new details from media coverage, Jordan writes.
The incoming first lady needed time to cool down, and “to change her financial arrangement with Trump ̵
Melania’s original prenup had not been extremely generous, reports Jordan. But she has been married to Trump longer than both his ex-wives and had negotiating power: Her perceived calming effect on him was so great that Trump’s comrades and at least one of Trump’s adult children urged her to come to the White House as soon as possible.
The 286-page book, which plays the title of Trump’s well-known business guide, is a deeply reported look at the emergence of the country’s only immigrant first lady since Louisa Adams.
For his book, Jordan conducted more than a hundred interviews, with everyone from Melania’s Slovenian schoolmates to former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and puts forward an argument that Melania Trump is as devoted to her own myth-making as her husband.
“Both are enthusiastic creators of their own history,” Jordan writes, arguing that the #FreeMelania hashtag should be retired because of her consistent support from her husband and her moves to stay in the White House.
“She is … much more like him than it seems,” Jordan adds.
Jordan, a longtime post reporter who won a Pulitzer Prize in 2003, secured a rare one-on-one interview with Melania while covering the 2016 campaign. The Post received a copy of its book before its June 16 release date.
Reporting goes back to Melania’s childhood in a small town in Slovenia, then part of Communist Yugoslavia, where her mother was a designer in a children’s clothing factory and her father, who joined the Communist Party at one time, was a driver and repaired car. Melania walked the runways at the age of 7, modeled clothes her mother made and sat for a photo shoot at 16.
The myth creation, Jordan writes, began early, when she failed to correct reporters who quoted her age incorrectly, always younger than she was. Although she said she would not have plastic surgery, three photographers who worked with her said they have seen the scar.
She participated in a very competitive architecture program at the University of Ljubljana, but did not graduate, but she claimed in swearing to have a bachelor’s degree.
There is also little evidence to suggest that her claims to be able to speak four or five languages fluently are true.
“Photographers and others who have worked with her over the years – including native languages in Italian, French and German – told me that they never heard her use more than a few words in these languages,” Jordan writes. The report in the book suggests that she only speaks English and Slovene fluently.
Meeting Trump accelerated that myth processing when he introduced her around town as a “super model” when it wasn’t right. Jordan even found some evidence of the story of how they met – he saw her at a club during Fashion Week 1998 with a more famous model, but was fixated on Melania, who refused to give him her phone number. Several sources, including a German modeling agent she worked for that year, told Jordan that they had heard Melania had already dated Trump before the timeline they posted.
The ease with Melania’s myth-making has been supported, Jordan says, by a pattern in her life of making clean breaks with her past. Old friends from Slovenia said they had never heard of her again. Once close friends from her New York City year say the same thing happened to them.
She “would take advantage of an opportunity and put a lot of effort into it. Then she would move on and never look back, Jordan writes.
As much as she and Trump seem to be complete opposites, Jordan writes: “They are both fighters and survivors and price loyalty over almost everything else. … Neither the very public Trump nor the very private Melania has many close friends. Their lonely instincts filter into their own marriage. “
It includes separate bedrooms both in the White House and when traveling, or how they will often be in the same building but not in the same room.
They also seem to love each other, according to people who witnessed their early imprisonment, and others who have seen their relationship in the White House go from frosty to warm again.
What emerges is a picture of personal ambition similar to Trump’s. In 1999, when he ran for president on the reform party ticket, she gave interviews that went on to become the next Jackie O. Later, she recalled Trump’s calls on then-President Barack Obama to produce his birth certificate, an adaptation to “birther” attacks mainly driven by Trump.
“There is plenty of that from the beginning,” Jordan writes, “Melania not only accepted Trump’s political ambitions but was also an encouraging partner.”
According to Roger Stone, the Trump mentor who is scheduled to go to prison for 40 months on convictions, ranging from witnesses who tampered with lies to investigators with the Mueller report, Melania always encouraged Trump to run for president. “She is the one who eventually said, ‘You know, Donald, stop talking about running for president and doing it. … And if you run, you will win, “Stone told Jordan.
On the campaign and in the White House, Melania has been Trump’s keyboards. Christie said Melania was always Trump’s first phone call when he got on a plane after a rally he knew had been broadcast. Asked what she thought, Chris Christie said, “She always had comments to give him, and I think that tells a lot about what he likes about her.”
She was a major reason why Trump chose Mike Pence as his running mate, after Trump arranged a weekend for Melania to get to know him and his wife Karen. She argued that Pence would be a better choice than Christie or Newt Gingrich. “She thought he would be happy at position two and not weapons for the top job,” Jordan writes, “which was something she couldn’t say about the other two.”
Her influence showed when she issued a rare statement condemning national security adviser Mira Ricardel, which resulted in the adviser’s termination.
Had the coronavirus not forced their cancellation, she would have made her first solo collections for the 2020 campaign in March. “She’s told people she wants to win re-election,” Jordan writes.
Many of her late moves in that direction, from placing the Freedom Medal around Rush Limbaugh’s neck to collapsing when Trump called the FBI “scum” in his speech after being acquitted of charges.
Observers at the White House had noticed a stir in her mood in mid-2018 that may be because she was so willing to fight for a second period. According to three people close to Trump, Jordan writes, Melania had finally negotiated the prenup to her liking. She had already looked for Barron’s future by making sure he had dual citizenship in Slovenia, which will place him to work in Europe for the Trump organization when he grows old.
Now she made sure he wasn’t shut down by the family business. Jordan writes: “She wanted written proof that when it came to financial opportunities and inheritance, Barron would be treated more like Trump’s oldest three children.”