Melania Trump spoke out about the "harmful" aspects of social media on Monday — all while her husband furiously tweeted from his own platform a barrage of insults at numerous political operatives

By Lindsay Kimble
August 20, 2018 11:53 AM
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Credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP/Shutterstock

Melania Trump spoke out about the “harmful” aspects of social media on Monday — all while her husband furiously tweeted from his own platform a barrage of insults at numerous political operatives.

Seemingly dinging President Donald Trump, the first lady told those gathered at the “Perspectives from Social Media Industry: Existing Efforts to Support Youth” panel, “Let’s face it: most children are more aware of the benefits and pitfalls of social media than some adults, but we still need to do all we can to provide them with information and tools for successful and safe online habits.”

The first lady also noted that social media is “an inevitable part of our children’s daily lives.”

“It can be used in many positive ways, but can also be destructive and harmful when used incorrectly,” said the first lady. “This is why Be Best chooses to focus on the importance of teaching our next generation how to conduct themselves safely and in a positive manner in an online setting.”

The first lady appeared as part of her “Be Best” awareness initiative, launched to combat the rise of cyberbullying. Critics have called her hypocritical for adopting the cause, given the president’s well-documented habit of using degrading and even racist nicknames online.

In response to the latest wave of backlash against the first lady’s chosen platform — and a speech that came amid the president’s Monday virtual war of words — her communications director, Stephanie Grisham, said in a statement, “The first lady’s presence at events such as today’s cyberbullying summit elevates an issue that is important to children and families across this country.”

Continued Grisham, “She is aware of the criticism but it will not deter her from doing what she feels is right. The President is proud of her commitment to children and encourages her in all that she does.”

Credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP/Shutterstock
Credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP/Shutterstock

Monday’s panel tackled topics including how social media companies are addressing cyberbullying on their platforms, and learning about policies already in place to combat such situations.

Meanwhile, President Trump started his Monday targeting, first, Special Counsel Robert Mueller as “disgraced and discredited,” then later, calling Democrats a “National Disgrace!”

Next to face Trump’s ire was former CIA Director John Brennan, who the president dubbed “the worst” in “our country’s history.”

The first lady’s comments closely follow former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman‘s claims in her new book that the 48-year-old’s controversial fashion choices — from her pussy-bow blouse to her “I really don’t care” jacket — were actually “style rebellions” intended to “punish her husband.”

In Unhinged, Manigault Newman specifically claims that the first lady was trying to make President Trump “look foolish” when she wore a Zara jacket emblazoned with the words “I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?” on her way to visit separated children at an immigration facility in Texas.

“It’s my opinion that Melania was forced to go to the border that day in June, essentially, to mop up her husband’s mess,” Manigault Newman writes in an excerpt obtained exclusively by the Daily Mail ahead of the book’s publication last week.

RELATED VIDEO: Trump Calls Omarosa Manigault Newman a ‘Dog’ After She Claims He’s Racist and in ‘Mental Decline’

“She wore that jacket to hurt Trump, setting off a controversy that he would have to fix, prolonging the conversation about the administration’s insensitivity, ruining the trip itself, and trying to make sure that no one asked her to do something like that again.”

Asked about the claims, the first lady’s spokesperson, Stephanie Grisham, said in a statement to PEOPLE: “Mrs. Trump rarely, if ever, interacted with Omarosa. It’s disappointing to her that she is lashing out and retaliating in such a self-serving way, especially after all the opportunities given to her by the president.”