“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,” Trump fumed on Twitter Wednesday. “All Fake, she is doing really well!”
He also claimed that “four reporters” saw his wife “walking merrily” at the White House last week but deliberately didn’t report the sighting “because it would hurt the sick narrative that she was living in a different part of the world, was really ill, or whatever.”
Trump’s Twitter tantrum came hours before his wife made her first public appearance in 27 days. She was last seen in public on May 10, four days before undergoing a kidney procedure.
On Wednesday, the first lady joined her husband for a briefing on hurricane preparedness at FEMA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Trump began by thanking his wife for attending and saying she was “doing great” after her hospitalization.
“She went through a little rough patch but she’s doing great,” Trump said. “The people of our country love you. Thank you, honey.”
One pool reporter noted that Mrs. Trump, 48, was “looking well, like her old self, perfectly healthy from at least her outward appearance.”
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.
Some media outlets and tabloids did report on conspiracy theories speculating that Mrs. Trump had disappeared because she had plastic surgery, or because she was planning to divorce her husband, or because she was hiding spousal abuse.
But the New York Times‘ Maggie Haberman had a theory that Trump’s tweet was not intended to knock down false media reports — but rather an attempt to get ahead of an authentic scandal.
“So you’re saying someone is writing a story you’re trying to pre-empt…,” she tweeted.
Many other critics responded to Trump’s tweet, including Morning Joe‘s Mika Brzezinski and her fiancé and co-host, Joe Scarborough.
Less than a year ago, Trump, on Twitter, called Brzezinski “low I.Q. Crazy Mika” and claimed that he once saw her “bleeding badly from a facelift.”
Scarborough sarcastically responded to Trump’s comments on Wednesday, writing: “I agree that it would be ‘vicious’ and ‘unfair’ to lie about a loved one having a facelift for the purpose of causing pain and embarrassment.
“Mr. President, can you imagine anyone would be so cruel to do such a thing?” Scarborough asked.
Brzezinski also mocked the president, responding to Scarborough’s tweet with: “I can’t even imagine.”
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Others on Twitter pointed out that Trump’s past treatment of other women has left him without a leg to stand on when it comes to defending his own wife.
CNN commentator and GOP strategist Ana Navarro tweeted, “I see some people who for years have been speculating and coming-up with theories about FORMER First Lady Hillary Clinton’s health, are now upset that some people are speculating and coming-up with theories about CURRENT First Lady Melania Trump’s health.”
And Twitter user Jeff Tiedrich wrote: “Trump: ‘Rosie O’Donnell is a pig. Heidi Cruz is ugly. Carly Fiorina is ugly. Alicia Machado is fat. Gail Collins is a dog. Mika Brzezinski is a mess. Megyn Kelly has blood coming out of her wherever.’ also Trump: ‘don’t anyone dare say anything mean about my wife.’ ”
Another critic pointed out that the president himself has often been known to “engage in conspiracy theories.”