Michelle Obama Finally Opens Up About That Awkward Inauguration Gift Exchange with Melania Trump
“It was a lovely frame,” Obama shares, in a sneak peek of the full interview airing on Thursday.
On the morning of his 2017 swearing-in ceremony, Trump didn’t wait for his wife — or help her out of the car, or take her arm —before charging up the White House steps to greet her and husband, former President Barack Obama. Instead, Melania walked up alone, a few paces behind her husband, with the Tiffany & Co. box in her hands.
“Well, there’s all this protocol. I mean, this is like a state visit, so they tell you that you’re going to do this, they’re going to stand here. Never before do you get this gift, so I’m sort of like okay,” the mother of two tells the host.
In one of the most memorable GIFs from the inauguration, Obama awkwardly received the present and frantically looked around for a place to put it. “You brought a gift!” the first lady exclaimed as seen and heard on footage of their meeting. “I’ll take care of the protocol here,” the 44th commander-in-chief said gamely.
During her interview with DeGeneres, Mrs. Obama recalls her train of thought when she looked around in vain for an aide to hand it off to while they posed for cameras.
“What am I supposed to do with this gift? And everyone cleared out and no one would come and take the box. And I’m thinking do we take the picture with?” the Chicago native says.
“And then my husband saved the day – see he grabbed the box and took it back inside. But everybody cleared out. No staff, no one. I was like what do you do with the box?” she adds.
It is a tradition for outgoing presidents to welcome their successors to the White House on the morning of Inauguration Day. Former President George W. Bush and wife Laura Bush hosted the Obamas and Bidens for coffee or tea in the Blue Room of the White House ahead of Obama’s first inauguration on Jan. 20, 2009.
Since leaving the White House, the Obamas have remained in the capital while their 16-year-old daughter Sasha finishes high school at Sidwell Friends in Washington. In fact, the former first couple lives near Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, who live a few blocks away.
Obama’s appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show will air on Thursday, Feb. 1 (check local listings).