Melania Trump has so far kept mum on Trump's impeachment: Why hasn't she defended her husband yet?
Unlike three of her predecessors who had defended their husbands facing impeachment or its threat, the current first lady has avoided making public statements barring defending son Barron whose name was dragged into an impeachment hearing.
She is the fourth first lady the US has seen whose husband faced impeachment or its threat but unlike the three predecessors, Melania Trump has remained aloof over the matter publicly. The Slovenian-born has not made any statement on the issue apart from defending her son with Trump, Barron, whose name was raked up by a witness during one of the impeachment hearings earlier this month.
The tales of Eliza Johnson, Pat Nixon and Hillary Clinton
Eliza Johnson (1810-76) was the first first lady whose spouse Andrew Johnson faced impeachment and despite suffering from tuberculosis, she kept a close watch on her husband, the 17th incumbent, during his impeachment from a room near his White House office. That was in 1868 and the Democrat barely survived it. It is said that Eliza closely followed stories that came out in the newspapers then and collected them in scrapbooks, according to the National First Ladies’ Library. She believed that Andrew would be eventually acquitted and when it happened, she was emotionally overwhelmed.
The next president who faced the impeachment threat was Richard Nixon in the early 1970s, but he resigned before the House could vote to impeach him in the wake of the Watergate scandal. The Republican's wife Pat (1912-93) remained an active figure as Nixon faced the ordeal, even claiming before the media that her husband wouldn’t quit, Mary C Brennan, who penned her biography ‘Pat Nixon: Embattled First Lady’, said.
“So much of her identity was tied up with his political career, so him quitting is like her quitting and that's not something that she would have done,” Brennan, who is the dean of the college of liberal arts, history department at Texas State, added.
Julie Nixon Eisenhower, the younger daughter of the former first couple and the wife of former president Dwight D Eisenhower’s grandson David, wrote later that her mother had regretted after the Watergate episode that her father had not consulted her about the tapes before they became publicly known. After a point of time, Pat had even reduced her public appearances as people turned hostile over her husband’s impeachment procedure, Myra Gutin, a student of first ladies at Rider University in New Jersey, was cited as saying by the Associated Press.
Hillary Clinton stayed actively involved despite Bill-Lewinsky case
The next president to be impeached was Bill Clinton in 1998 on charges of lying under oath and obstruction of justice. This impeachment took place when the popular media turned stronger unlike in the times of Johnson and Nixon and the focus had steadily remained on Clinton’s family, including Bill’s wife Hillary, a politician, and daughter Chelsea, especially because the case revolved around the former president’s sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
Hillary, who ran for the presidency in 2008 and 2016, was, in fact, active in defending her husband and even rallied the Democrats privately. In December 1998, she joined her husband and congressional Democrats for an appearance in the White House Rose Garden following the impeachment. Bill, too, like Johnson, survived the impeachment. She also appealed to the people to ‘practice reconciliation’ and ‘end divisiveness’ during an appearance at the White House that was unrelated.
In case of Melania, no such activism has been seen so far, even as President Trump and his loyalists have been attacking the Democrats’ mission vehemently.
Is Melania hurt? Or is she is indifferent?
Is Melania too busy?
Speculations are rife. Former press secretary to Melania and current White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham called her “very strong” who has now become used to “political harassment”. She also said that Melania is focused on her role as a mother and wife and doing her bit to serve the country. This theory in a way rubbishes what Trump has claimed the recent past -- the impeachment process has affected his family’s peace.
Others feel that she is doing what her predecessors have done -- trying to make a path of her own through the challenges. “In this particular case, she doesn't really have a whole lot of history to look toward,” Tammy Vigil, a Boston University communications professor and author of a book about Melania Trump and Michelle Obama, was quoted as saying by AP.
Melania has clarified in the past that the people needed to hear from Trump since he is the one who is elected.
Trump has found himself involved in ugly battles earlier, be it over allegations of his 2016 presidential campaign having collusion with Russia or his extramarital affairs with an adult film actress or numerous charges of him mistreating women, and in all those cases, Melania has chosen to keep silent and not provide fodder for more public controversy.