What does Melania Trump actually do?

Donald Trump may be omnipresent, but his wife is rarely seen in public. What do Melania Trump's sparse appearances in recent months reveal?

It's just a short performance, and actually it's not a real performance at all. But at least she's there. Here in Florida, not far from our adopted home, voting for the presidential primaries. Melania Trump only says two words. “Stay tuned”. She stands next to her husband, of course, one might almost say. Because she hasn't been seen alone or in public for a long time. That's exactly why this question. When and whether she plans to show up at her husband's appearances in the US presidential election campaign. “Stay Tuned – Wait and see.”

She nods her head slightly and puts on a smile. Seconds later it disappeared again. Her eyes are hidden behind large black sunglasses. Former President Donald Trump stands next to her, grins and then begins to make a political statement. These days, Melania Trump's every appearance and statement, no matter how brief, is noted. Since leaving the White House, she has hardly appeared in public, has remained largely silent and has hardly played a role in her husband's election campaign.

Melania Trump: always only marginally, if at all

Donald Trump has been in campaign mode for 16 months, but without his wife. When he announced his renewed presidential bid at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida in November 2022, Melania was present, but only as a spectator. And in the many months since, she has not attended any of his major campaign appearances or campaigned for him herself. She gave herself until May 2023 to publicly express her support for her husband. And that too just barely. “He has my support,” she said. “And we look forward to restoring hope for the future and leading America with love and strength.”

While Democratic President Joe Biden's wife, Jill, regularly attends his re-election campaign events, Trump has so far contested the race to return to the White House without his wife. Melania Trump also left the various historic charges against her husband last year uncommented and did not accompany him to any of his court dates.

In recent months, she has only been seen sparingly in public: at the memorial service for the late former first lady Rosalynn Carter in November, and at the funeral of her own mother, Amalija Knavs, in January. She occasionally appeared at Mar-a-Lago celebrations, but always only on the sidelines.

First ladies of the USA usually remain present even after they leave the White House, write books and use their celebrity for charitable projects. Melania Trump also started an initiative for young people from foster families. But she made a name for herself primarily with a more business-related project: the sale of limited editions of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT), works of art with a kind of digital certificate of authenticity. Among other things on offer: a watercolor version of her “cobalt blue eyes”. Those in the know told US media that since leaving Washington, Melania Trump has primarily taken care of her son Barron, surrounded herself with a small circle of family, friends and her stylist and enjoyed her privacy. But in public she made herself scarce.

A performance with surprising choreography

Melania Trump set a remarkable accent with a rare appearance in December when she spoke at a naturalization ceremony in the US capital – of all things to welcome immigrants, against whom her husband regularly agitates, as new US citizens. In addition, immigrants from the countries that her husband denigrated as “shithole states” during his time in office. Of all places, in Washington, which Trump hates, and in the National Archives building. Trump is said to have withheld a large number of secret government documents from the archives, which earned him one of his impeachments.

Melania Trump has a personal connection to the topic: She comes from Slovenia and only became an American in 2006 through naturalization. The fact that she chose such a ceremony at that very location, given her otherwise extensive public absence, still caused a stir – and seemed like an affront to her husband.

Trump's bizarre campaign clip with Melania

The excerpt from a bizarre campaign video that Trump published a few weeks later on the Truth Social platform came across almost as a retaliation. Melania appeared there in an unflattering way. In the clip entitled “God created Trump,” a narrator reported why the Creator sent the Republican down to earth: namely, to relentlessly save the world. One portion of the video stated that God wanted a man who would tame the World Economic Forum, then “come home hungry, wait until the first lady had lunch with friends,” and then lull the “ladies” into safety.

There was also a video recording of Trump and his wife walking to the presidential helicopter during his term in office: Melania Trump stumbles on the path across the lawn on high heels and Trump supports her with his arm. Showing your wife stumbling and having lunch for election advertising is unconventional.

In recent weeks, questions have been increasing for Trump about what role his wife will play in the rest of the election campaign – if any. The Republican recently told Fox News: “She will play a big role and always has.” Trump added: “I think she will be very active – in the sense of being active.” He left it open what that meant.

A marriage as a purely business relationship?

A former friend and adviser to the former first lady, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, told The Washington Post that she was convinced Melania Trump would continue to support her husband. No amount of further scandal, no amount of lying or infidelity will change that. “She stood by him and will continue to stand by him because she is just like him,” Winston Wolkoff said. The marriage between the two is purely a business relationship. “She knew exactly who she was marrying and warned him that if he ran for president, all his secrets would come out,” she said. “People would be surprised to know how much they agree on many things.”