Entertainment Celebrity Melania Trump is off to Africa on a mission that might include trolling her husband

Melania Trump is off to Africa on a mission that might include trolling her husband

Melania Trump Maryland
Melania Trump, speaking on cyberbullying on August 20, said children take social media cues from adults. Photo: Getty
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The announcement was simple. US First Lady Melania Trump will make her first major solo international trip later this year.

Destination: Africa.

The visit will be Mrs Trump’s first to the sprawling continent, and “I am excited to educate myself on the issues facing children throughout the continent, while also learning about its rich culture and history,” she said in a statement.

“We are a global society and I believe it is through open dialogue and the exchanging of ideas that we have a real opportunity to learn from one another.”

Boxes were ticked immediately, including children’s welfare, humanitarian work and the potential for Melania’s always-literal wardrobe to include references to Simba or Katharine Hepburn circa The African Queen.

But then the reason for Mrs Trump’s trip was dissected.

The international media and Trump watchers read more into her big news than just the fact she’s organised a working getaway without her husband.

In January, the President sparked global uproar when he made disparaging remarks when speaking about immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African nations.

He reportedly used the phrase “sh–hole countries”.

Mr Trump, 72, denied making the remarks, which were attacked by the chairman of the African Union Commission.

“It’s hard to tell if Melania Trump is purposely trolling her husband, President Donald Trump, but if she is, it’s epic,” The Huffington Post reported.

The irony was not lost on Twitter users:

Then the theory that Melania is strategic in getting across her message when it’s different from her husband’s gained more traction.

The same day as the trip announcement, Melania, 48, wore a pussy bow blouse – Access Hollywood alert!  – to make a rare impassioned speech at a conference on cyberbullying prevention.

Under the umbrella of her ‘Be Best’ campaign, Mrs Trump told experts social media “can be destructive and harmful when used incorrectly”.

Added Mrs Trump: “Let’s face it, most children are more aware of the benefits and pitfalls of social media than some adults.”

Her message came at an interesting time.

Just after his wife left Washington for the meeting in Maryland, President Trump – who last week called former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman “that dog” on social media – took savage digital aim at his political enemies via Twitter.

In a combative barrage of insults, he called the former director of the CIA a “hack”, labelled special counsel Robert Mueller “disgraced and discredited” and mocked the effectiveness of the Justice Department.

The juxtaposition of his message and that of the First Lady “added to a day of dissonant messaging from the Trump White House,” noted The New York Times, which said Mr Trump has “attacked at least 487 people, companies or institutions since declaring his candidacy for the presidency”.

It prompted CNN to ask, “Is Melania Trump trolling her husband with her anti-bullying agenda?”

According to reports, the President’s tweets were not raised at the cyberbullying summit but the First Lady was in the audience when Lauren Culbertson, who manages public policy for Twitter, said the platform has “strong rules” against bullying.

“One beautiful thing about Twitter is that people come to Twitter to find community and have conversations,” Ms Culbertson said.

The First Lady’s communications director downplayed the apparent hypocrisy between Mrs Trump’s anti-bullying comments and her husband’s social media habits.

“Rather than dissecting her remarks, let’s focus on the countless children who struggle [with] bullying and online safety each day,” Stephanie Grisham tweeted.

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