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First Lady Melania Trump made her first public appearance in 27 days as she joined her husband on Wednesday for a briefing on hurricane preparedness at FEMA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

By Tierney McAfee
June 06, 2018 02:52 PM
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First Lady Melania Trump made her first public appearance in 27 days as she joined her husband on Wednesday for a briefing on hurricane preparedness at FEMA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

President Donald Trump began by thanking his wife, who was seated next to him at the meeting, and saying she’s “doing great” after undergoing a successful kidney procedure on May 14.

“She went through a little rough patch but she’s doing great,” Trump said. “The people of our country love you. Thank you, honey.”

“You can be very, very proud of yourselves, and I’m proud to be with you,” the president added to the other attendees. The first lady stood solemnly beside her husband as he spoke but pool reporters covering the event did not hear Mrs. Trump speak.

One reporter noted that Mrs. Trump, 48, was “looking well, like her old self, perfectly healthy from at least her outward appearance.”

US-POLITICS-TRUMP-FEMA
Donald and Melania Trump
| Credit: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty
US-POLITICS-TRUMP-FEMA
Melania Trump
| Credit: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty

Earlier on Wednesday, the president tweeted in his wife’s defense, accusing the “Fake News Media” of being “unfair and vicious” to the first lady amid her unusually long absence from the public eye.

“During her recovery from surgery they reported everything from near death, to facelift, to left the W.H. (and me) for N.Y. or Virginia, to abuse,” he claimed. “All Fake, she is doing really well!”

Wednesday marked Mrs. Trump’s first on-camera appearance since May 10, when she joined her husband at Joint Base Andrews to welcome home three America detainees from North Korea.

Mrs. Trump, 48, first reemerged Monday evening at a White House ceremony to honor Gold Star families, but the reception was “closed press,” meaning reporters were not allowed to attend or cover the event.

Mrs. Trump is being choosy about her appearances after her time out of the spotlight. Although she attended Wednesday’s FEMA briefing, she opted out of her husband’s “Celebration of America” event at the White House on Tuesday. Her spokesperson, Stephanie Grisham, said the first lady could not attend the event due to a busy day of meetings.

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Mrs. Trump is also skipping the G7 summit in Canada this week, which her husband will attend, and a June 12 trip to Singapore for a North Korea meeting, her spokesperson told NBC News.

Throughout her unprecedented absence, there was national speculation about the first lady’s whereabouts — and why she didn’t simply appear in public to quash the rumors once and for all.

Even as her husband and stepdaughter Ivanka hosted a “Sports and Fitness Day” event at the White House last week, the first lady remained out of sight and instead chose to send out a tweet shutting down conspiracy theories about her ongoing absence.

“I see the media is working overtime speculating where I am & what I’m doing. Rest assured, I’m here at the @WhiteHouse w my family, feeling great, & working hard on behalf of children & the American people!” she tweeted.

But her message did little to quell the rumor mill, and the way it was worded even sparked new speculation that the tweet had been written not by the first lady but by her husband.

Freelance reporter Yashar Ali credited Mrs. Trump’s “stubborn” streak as the reason she refused to show her face in public for so long.

“Something lost about @FLOTUS in all of this Twitter talk…she is intensely private (yes, even though she’s a Trump),” he tweeted Sunday. “People close to her have often told me of how stubborn she can be about things like this. A simple statement could end speculation but she refuses to give in.”