Melania Trump is a mystery who has baffled many.
A former supermodel of Slovenian origin, she has broken with first lady traditions in many ways, and her tenure in the White House has been filled with controversies.
A 288-page book out Tuesday claims to examine Melania's life “from her childhood in Slovenia to her days in the White House, and everything in between", according to its summary.
Written by Kate Bennett, a CNN reporter who spent years following the First Lady, it promises to give an unofficial, unauthorised account of who she really is.
Trophy wife or hostage?
Many people tend to buy into the theory that Melania Trump is miserable and trapped, a hostage in the White House.
According to the author of the book, Melania Trump, 49, wields a lot more personal power than people assume.
Bennett paints FLOTUS as “powerful and influential” in the White House, often weighing in on her husband’s decisions “both politically and in the way he manages his staff”.
“She has frequent, opinionated discussions with him, oftentimes more than once a day, via telephone,” the author writes.
First major political scandal
According to the revealing new book, the First Lady has also been “let down” by her husband’s appointment of “a skeleton staff of political neophytes”, paving the way for Melania Trump’s first major political scandal.
Thus, the author blames FLOTUS’s aides for a 2016 speech which appeared to be plagiarised from a talk given by her predecessor Michelle Obama.
The First Lady was “beside herself with guilt” following the speech she gave at the Republican National Convention which contained similarities to Michelle Obama’s address eight years earlier, claims Bennett.
“Cordial, not close”
The new book claims to shed light on the First Lady’s relationship with Trump’s 38-year-old daughter Ivanka, who works in the White House as a senior adviser to her father.
“To be fair, both Ivanka and Melania have tried very hard to like each other and achieve more than mere toleration,” author Kate Bennett writes.
According to the author, the two women are “cordial, not close”.
“Behind the scenes, Melania had made it clear from New York that Ivanka was not to have an office in the East Wing, because the East Wing, when she ultimately did arrive, was to be her territory and hers alone,” says Bennett.
Melania believed that Ivanka was “was infringing on her turf” when the First Daughter travelled to Africa to promote women’s entrepreneurship a few months after the First Lady made her first major solo international trip.
The author claims tension was evident between the two women over Donald Trump’s zero-tolerance policy of separating families at the border – something that Melania was in “intense talks” with her husband about, “telling him how upsetting it was”.
Ivanka received a lot of the credit when Trump signed the executive order ending the policy, with the First lady reportedly upset about how Ivanka got the credit.
A Jab at Ivanka
The next day, Melania wore the scandalous green jacket with the words “I really don’t care do u?” emblazoned on the back as she boarded a plane to visit the United States-Mexico border.
The $39 Zara jacket was likely a “facetious jab at Ivanka and her near-constant attempts to attach herself to positive administration talking points,” Bennett writes.
Bennett added that Melania typically steered clear of the fast-fashion brand but Ivanka regularly opted for Zara items.
“She didn’t wear it on the ground in Texas, which to me was evidence the messaging was not meant for greater public display,” Bennett wrote.
‘Be Best’ impact
Melania Trump unveiled her signature initiative, the child-focused kindness and anti-bullying campaign, “Be Best,” over a year ago.
Kate Bennett offers an assessment of it in the book, writing:
“To this day it has no publicly stated framework, timeline or markers for progress … The likelihood that it will ever have the impact of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign or Nancy Reagan’s Just Say No is slim to none.”
The hospital stay that was no joke
The author of the book takes up Melania Trump’s medical issue that has fuelled speculations, writing that according to a trusted source, “Melania’s medical issue was indeed not minor — and that an embolization of a growth of some sort, small or large, when attached to the kidney, as hers might have been, made for a dangerous and complicated procedure.”
The First Lady has a room of her own at the White House, writes Bennett.
While the president sleeps in the master bedroom on the second level of the White House residence — he requested a lock for his door — Mrs. Trump stays on the third floor, in the two-room space formerly occupied by Michelle Obama’s mother, Marian Robinson, claims the author. FLOTUS also has a “glam room,” where she does her hair and makeup, and a private gym with a Pilates machine.
Bennett offers her explanation for their separate quarters: perhaps if Melania and Trump were forced to spend more time with each other, their marriage wouldn’t last, she says.
“Trump didn’t have separate bedrooms with his two previous wives; it’s worth noting that those relationships lasted nowhere near as long as his current one,” says Bennett.
Really ‘down to earth’
According to the book, Melania Trump is really just a normal person who is nice to staff and she uses emojis.
According to Bennett, Melania often sends Stephanie Ann Grisham, the White House press secretary, emojis to “convey her happiness, disappointment or surprise”.
Still, Melania Trump has been one of the most private first ladies in recent history.
She rarely gives a TV interview, has yet to appear on the cover of a major magazine, and her staff runs her social media accounts.
Melania Trump has made it clear her 13-year-old son Barron is her first priority, starting by delaying moving into the White House after her husband was elected so their son could finish his school year in New York.
“Imagine what those [polling] numbers could be if Melania actually said anything of major importance on a regular basis?” Bennett writes, in reference to a poll that once put her as more popular than Michelle Obama.