Melania Trump was a no-show at her husband’s arrest and arraignment on Tuesday – marking the second time that she has skipped out on one of his criminal cases.
Donald Trump surrendered to authorities in Miami on Tuesday afternoon and was arrested on a slew of 37 federal charges over his alleged mishandling of classified documents since leaving the White House.
The former president then appeared for his arraignment in federal court, pleading not guilty to the charges which he has repeatedly lambasted as nothing more than a “witch hunt”.
While crowds of Mr Trump’s fans and MAGA loyalists gathered outside the courthouse in a show of support, the former first lady was nowhere to be seen.
Melania is also yet to publicly comment on her husband’s indictment, which has the potential to land him behind bars for the remainder of his life.
Her absence – and silence – from his second criminal case comes after she was also notably absent from his first criminal proceedings back in April.
On 31 March, Mr Trump made history as the first current or former US president to face criminal charges when he was indicted on 34 felony charges over hush money payments to silence people in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election about his alleged affairs with women.
On 4 April, he was arrested and arraigned in a New York courtroom.
Melania did not accompany Mr Trump to New York for this historic day and was then notably absent from his post-arraignment speech at Mar-a-Lago that evening – despite living on the grounds of the estate and despite most of the former president’s family members attending in a show of support.
Mr Trump also neglected to mention his wife as he paid tribute to each of his children in the speech.
Melania’s absence sparked speculation – especially given the fact that her husband’s charges are in relation to alleged affairs he had while married to her.
Her former aide Stephanie Winston Wolkoff told Page Six at the time that her silence was intentional.
“Melania lives in an ivory tower of denial,” she said. “Her silence is deliberate, it is her weapon of choice and her protective armour.”
Days later, the couple stepped out for dinner in Mar-a-Lago in an apparent show of support and Melania released a statement firing back at “assumptions” being made in the media.
“News organizations have made assumptions about the former First Lady’s stance on subjects that are personal, professional, and political over the past few weeks. In these articles, unnamed sources are cited to bolster the author’s claims,” the statement read.
“We ask readers to exercise caution and good judgment when determining whether or not stories concerning the former First Lady are accurate, particularly when they fail to cite Mrs. Trump as a source of information.”
Despite the interest which her absence drew last time, Melania has once again kept a low profile amid her husband’s second criminal case.
Mr Trump seemed to lay the foundations for her absence on Tuesday as he paid tribute to her nonchalance in a pre-arrest interview with Roger Stone.
“She’s a terrific person. She’s a very beautiful person. As you know, she made a tremendous amount of money when she was very successful as a model. And in a very low key way. She doesn’t care that much,” he rambled.
“She’s got an attitude. That’s amazing... She doesn’t need things like some people they’re always pushing themselves out there. She’s the opposite.”
Last week, a grand jury indicted Mr Trump on 37 federal charges over his handling of classified documents, including national defence information, after leaving the White House.
The indictment, which was unsealed on Friday (9 June), alleges that Mr Trump deliberately lied to and misled authorities so that he could hold onto documents that he knew were classified.
On at least two separate occasions, Mr Trump then showed some of the classified documents to people not authorised to see them, the indictment alleges.
Stunning photos revealed that many of the documents were stored around a toilet, shower and ballroom at his Mar-a-Lago estate.
The charges include 31 counts of willful retention of national defense information and single counts of false statements and representations, and counts of conspiracy to obstruct justice, withholding a document or record, corruptly concealing a document, concealing a document in a federal investigation and a scheme to conceal.
Mr Trump’s longtime aide Walt Nauta is also facing six charges including several obstruction- and concealment-related charges after he allegedly helped move boxes of documents from Mar-a-Lago to Mr Trump’s residence and then lied to investigators about having any knowledge of the handling of the papers.
Following his arraignment, Mr Trump is flying straight back to New Jersey to deliver a speech at his Bedminster golf club.
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