Role of first lady comes into question


Melania Trump’s reported decision to delay moving into the White House when her husband takes office could cost New York City millions of dollars in added security and disrupted commerce.

But at least one journalist is cheering the move: In fact, Politico’s Jack Shafer argues Melania Trump should go one step further and abdicate the largely ceremonial role of first lady entirely.

Related: Facts about Melania Trump

Born Melanija Knavs

Originally Melanija Knavs, Melania Trump was born April 20, 1970 in Novo Mesto, Slovenia. Born to a car dealer and children’s clothing designer, she grew up in a modest home in a community then part of communist Yugoslavia. Melania has a younger sister and older half brother, whom her father had from a previous relationship.

Pictured: Taken in 1977, this image shows Melania, 7, (second from the right) attending a fashion review at the textile company where her mother was employed.

Raised in communist Yugoslavia

This is the general view of the old town of Sevnica in Slovenia where Melania grew up. Tourists now frequent the small, country town because of Donald and Melania Trump’s fame.

Began modeling at age 16. 

In her early days of modeling, Trump worked in Milan and Paris, before moving to New York in 1996.

Pictured: Melania Knauss during Fred Trump’s Funeral at Marble Collegiate Church in New York City.

She met Donald at a fashion party.

Melania met her future husband Donald Trump at a New York fashion party in 1998. Although she first refused to date him, the couple eventually began establishing a relationship.

Pictured: Then Melania Knauss and Donald Trump sit ringside for a Heavyweight Championship fight on April 29, 2000, at Madison Square Garden.

Donald and Melania were engaged in 2004.

Donald and Melania met while he was still married to, but separated from, then wife Marla Maples. Melania and Donald became engaged in 2004.

Pictured: Donald Trump and then girlfriend, Melania, watch the 2001 US Open tennis tournament.

Melania can speak five languages.

Melania is fluent in five languages: Slovenian, English, French, Serbian and German.

Pictured: Donald Trump and then Melania Knauss pose as they arrive for a charity event on board the Queen Mary 2 on April 24, 2004.

The Clintons attended their wedding.

In 2005, Melania and Donald married in a Palm Beach, Florida ceremony. Shaquille O’Neal, Kelly Ripa, Barbara Walters, Matt Lauer, Katie Couric and both President Bill Clinton and then-U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton were in attendance.

Pictured: Donald and Melania sit courtside before a 2001 Toronto Raptors game.

Melania has her own jewelry line.

In 2010, Melania launched a QVC jewelry line, which sold out in 45 minutes.

Pictured: Then New York mayoral hopeful Michael Bloomberg, real estate developer Donald Trump, and model Melania Knauss chat together at the Bloomberg pre-dinner party for the 2001 White House Correspondent’s Dinner.

Donald says they’re “very compatible.”

In 2005, Donald Trump described his relationship with Melania, saying, “We literally have never had an argument, forget about the word ‘fight’ … We just are very compatible. We get along.”

Pictured: Melania and Donald arrive at the opening night party for Britney Spears’ restaurant Nyla in 2002.

Melania posed nude.

In 2000, Melania was featured in a naked profile shoot for GQ. The spread showed Melania in Trump’s customized Boeing 727 wearing handcuffs, wielding diamonds and holding a chrome pistol.

Pictured: Melania poses for pictures as she arrives at the Costume Institute Gala held at the 2005 Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Melania and Donald have a son, Barron.

On March 20, 2006, Melania gave birth to her and Donald’s son, Barron William Trump. He is often referred to as “The Little Donald.”

Donald holds a replica of his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame as Melania holds their son Barron in Los Angeles in 2007.

She has a skin care line.

In 2011, Melania became the face of New Sunshine skincare brands. It committed to spending $2 million creating her products, paid her $1 million upfront, and gave her other perks, including first-class travel and a $10,000 per day hair and makeup budget for photo shoots.

Pictured: Melania Trump arrives at a Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute gala benefit in 2012.

She appeared on “The Celebrity Apprentice,” but had to pay for it.

Melania’s skincare brand, New Sunshine, had to pay a discounted rate of $100,000 to hawk their products on the show.

Pictured: “Celebrity Apprentice” host Donald Trump and his wife Melania Trump arrive for the NBC network upfront presentation at Radio City Music Hall in 2012.

Her parents spend most of their time in New York.

Melania’s father, Viktor, and mother, Amalija, still own a house in Sevnica, but spend most of their time in New York with Melania’s only child, Barron.

Back in Sevnica, family friends say they haven’t seen Melania in years. Her parents still own a house in town, but since their grandson Barron — Trump’s only child with Melania — was born in 2006, they spend most of their time in New York, according to neighbors.

Pictured: Melania Trump pose for photos at a 2014 news conference, in New York.

Poll says she isn’t too popular.

According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll, Melania is the least popular presidential candidate spouse since Hillary Clinton.

Pictured: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump leaves the stage with his wife Melania Trump and his daughter, Ivanka Trump. left, after the first Republican presidential debate.

She spoke at the Republican National Convention.

On July 18, Melania addressed delegates on the first day of the Republican National Convention at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. The soon-to-be first lady was quickly criticized, though, when it became clear parts of her speech were identical to that of First lady Michelle Obama in 2008.

She cares about bullying.

On November 3, Melania Trump gave her first solo campaign speech for her husband in Berwyn, Pennsylvania, saying she would work to combat bullying as first lady. “Our culture has gotten too mean and too rough, especially to children and teenagers,” she said, noting that kids are often hurt when they are “made to feel less in looks or intelligence.”

She said she wants to be “true to herself” as first lady.

On November 11, President-elect Trump and his family — including Melania — appeared on 60 Minutes in their first post-election television interview. In the interview, Melania opened up to Lesley Stahl about staying true to herself, meeting Michelle Obama at the White House and how she hopes to raise son, Barron, as they transition to life as the first family.

Melania and Barron will stay in New York for the time being.

On November 20, Trump transition team sources said that Melania and 10-year-old son, Barron, are expected to spend most of their time in New York at least through spring of 2017. The team offered keeping Barron in his Upper West Side private school as reasoning for their staying in New York.

Melania will make history as first lady.

With her husband’s victory, Melania Trump will become the first foreign-born U.S. first lady since John Quincy Adam’s wife, Louisa, who was born in London.

Pictured: Melania Trump attends The Museum of Modern Art Film Benefit honoring Baz Luhrmann on 2008 in New York.

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Shafer describes the office of first spouse as “a rancid barrel of presidential pork” that serves to “endorse a pernicious kind of neo-nepotism.” Shafer notes this isn’t meant as a slight on Melania Trump in any way, insisting he was equally prepared to issue this broadside against Bill Clinton.

“First spouse” isn’t technically an official position, so there’s no salary for the role or anything. But past FLOTUSes have maintained a staff of federal employees. In 2010, Michelle Obama’s staff of 18 people was paid $1.5 million.

The role has also given presidential wives a platform to push pet projects. That’s relatively uncontroversial when it comes to causes like children’s education or healthy eating.

Related: Melania Trump through the years

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But more assertive first ladies have also dipped their toes into political causes like civil rights and health care, with mixed results.

In terms of time, media attention and money paid to unelected public servants, the closest analogue to the first lady might be the U.K.’s royal family.

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But despite her reluctance to move to D.C., Melania Trump has shown no signs of bucking the trend. She’s already picked out her personal cause for the next four years: stopping cyberbullying.

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