Former US first lady Melania Trump refused to condemn the violent mob of pro-Trump supporters who stormed the US Capitol, her former chief of staff has alleged.
After shocking evidence about then-US president Donald Trump’s fury emerged at hearings by the House of Representatives committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on Wednesday, a bombshell text exchange with Ms Trump has also been revealed.
In it, Stephanie Grisham – who had worked for Ms Trump in the White House since 2017 – asked her boss if she’d like to send a “peaceful protests” tweet to Americans.
She received a blunt and emphatic “no”.
“Do you want to tweet that peaceful protests are the right of every American, but there is no place for lawlessness & violence?” the text from Ms Grisham read.
“No,” a person identified as “MT” replied.
Ms Grisham confirmed to the Washington Examiner that the exchange was with Ms Trump.
“I resigned immediately after her response,” she said.
She also recalled the messages in her book published in October last year, I’ll Take Your Questions Now: What I Saw in The Trump White House.
“Grisham lets it be known that the election was not stolen, that she urged the first lady to denounce the storming of the Capitol, and that Melania demurred because she was more concerned with setting up a photo shoot for a rug,” a Guardian review states.
“That, Grisham writes, was when she decided enough was finally enough.”
Trump’s violent rage
The exchange resurfaced on Wednesday after former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson told the January 6 committee that an angry Mr Trump tried to grab the steering wheel of a Secret Service limousine when he was told he would not be joining supporters moving on the US Capitol.
Ms Hutchinson relayed Mr Trump’s actions after he finished a speech outside the White House, where he exhorted supporters to march on the Capitol. She said he wanted to join the protesters at the seat of government, where lawmakers were meeting to certify Democrat Joe Biden’s election victory.
“I’m the effing president, take me up to the Capitol now,” Ms Hutchinson quoted Mr Trump as saying to Secret Service agents.
When he was told they would not be going to the Capitol, one agent had to physically restrain Mr Trump who used his free hand to lunge toward the neck of Secret Service agent Robert Engel, Ms Hutchinson testified.
She also said Mr Trump dismissed concerns that some supporters gathered for his fiery speech outside the White House that day were carrying AR-15-style rifles. Instead, Ms Hutchinson said, the then-president said security should not screen attendees with metal-detecting magnetometers – so the resulting crowd looked bigger.
“Take the effing mags away; they’re not here to hurt me,” Ms Hutchinson quoted Mr Trump as saying.
In a social media post, Mr Trump has since denounced Ms Hutchison’s evidence as a “fake story”.
‘Stand up for the truth’
But Ms Grisham praised Ms Hutchinson’s testimony, saying the former aide had “chosen to stand up for the truth” despite potential threats from “MAGA extremists”.
During Ms Grisham’s four years at the White House, she worked closely with Ms Trump. But relations between the two women have deteriorated significantly since her departure.
Earlier, Ms Grisham said the spotlight on Ms Trump was “unsparing” during her husband’s presidency. She said “the first lady was unofficially called Rapunzel” by Secret Service agents, because of her reluctance to leave her personal quarters.
“Unlike Michelle Obama and Laura Bush, Melania seldom ventured near her East Wing office,” she said.
A spokesperson for Ms Trump shot back at the time: “The intent behind this book is obvious. It is an attempt to redeem herself after a poor performance as press secretary, failed personal relationships, and unprofessional behaviour in the White House.
“Through mistruth and betrayal, she seeks to gain relevance and money at the expense of Mrs Trump.”
There are also other reports of Ms Trump’s reaction to the violence in Washington.
On January 8, 2021, Glamour magazine reported the Slovenian-born former model had “checked out” and was clearly looking for distraction – choosing to do a photo shoot for rugs in the East Wing and executive residence.
“She was, according to another source who spoke to CNN, not ‘in a place mentally or emotionally’ to address the country about the riot. Simply put, this source says Melania Trump is ‘checked out’,” it wrote.
Ms Trump eventually released a statement on the “tragic events” at the Capitol on January 11.
Vanity Fair said it proved the outgoing first lady “gave even less of a f–k about the Capitol attack than we previously thought” and cared more about herself when she finally released a statement several days after the riot.
“I find it shameful that surrounding these tragic events there has been salacious gossip, unwarranted personal attacks, and false misleading accusations on me – from people who are looking to be relevant and have an agenda,” the statement said.