First lady Melania Trump, whose plan to accompany President Trump to Davos was canceled at the last minute, instead went to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington on Thursday — alone and unaccompanied by the media.
The visit, announced by the White House after it was over, was arranged to honor International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Saturday. In a statement released by the East Wing, Trump said she wanted to pay respect to the 6 million Jews lost in the Holocaust and to the millions of other victims of Nazi persecution.
“My thoughts and prayers are with the people whose lives and families were broken by the horrors of the Holocaust,” her statement said. “Yet it is also through our shared humanity that we come together now in commemoration, strength, and love. My heart is with you, and we remember.”
With no press photographers present, only White House photos were available, some of which Trump tweeted out.
“Thank you @HolocaustMuseum for a powerful & moving tour that honors the millions of innocent lives lost, and educates us on the tragedies and effects of the holocaust,” her tweet said.
Thank you @HolocaustMuseum for a powerful & moving tour that honors the millions of innocent lives lost, and educates us on the tragedies and effects of the holocaust. #WeRemember #AskWhy pic.twitter.com/za8MN6pKRZ
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) January 25, 2018
Soon after, Trump departed Washington and arrived at Palm Beach International Airport near the Trump resort at Mar-a-Lago, according to The Palm Beach Post, which reported that the plane (smaller than Air Force One but with similar markings) dropped off the first lady for an unscheduled visit.
“According to the Federal Aviation Administration, that plane is referred to Executive One Foxtrot when a member of the president’s family is aboard,” the paper reported.
It is not unusual for this first lady to make unannounced and under-the-radar public appearances sans a press pool tagging along.
What is unusual is the context for her visit to the museum: It comes after she changed her mind Monday about going to Davos, which itself came after the storm over Stormy Daniels.
Daniels (real name Stephanie Clifford) is the former porn star who claimed to have had an affair with Donald Trump around the time Melania Trump gave birth to their son, Barron, 11. Daniels was allegedly paid $130,000 through Trump’s lawyer to keep silent about it, according to The Wall Street Journal.
It also comes after In Touch magazine last week published a 7-year-old interview with Daniels in which she goes into salacious details about the alleged affair. Daniels now claims the affair never happened but she wasn’t saying that when the interview was conducted in 2011.
So when Trump decided she wouldn’t be going to Davos after all, despite an earlier announcement that she would, all sorts of conclusions were jumped to in Washington. It didn’t help that Monday, the 13th anniversary of the Trumps’ wedding, passed without any public acknowledgment by either.
Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s spokeswoman, said Trump’s reasons for canceling her travel plans to Davos were practical.
“It was determined there were too many scheduling and logistical issues, so Mrs. Trump will not travel to Davos,” Grisham said in an email to USA TODAY. Grisham did not respond to emails about why Trump went to Florida later Thursday.
Based on her solo activities during previous foreign trips accompanying the president, Mrs.Trump prefers to visit schools and hospitals where she gets to meet children. Davos is a small Swiss Alpine town that annually hosts the World Economic Forum, where there is little to do except gab with world leaders, businessmen and billionaires, or go skiing.
So instead of jetting off to Switzerland on Air Force One Wednesday night, she was driven from the White House to just off the National Mall to the Holocaust memorial, where she was met by museum director Sara Bloomfield.
Trump, 47, who was born in Slovenia in eastern Europe, took a tour of the 24-year-old museum that charts the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany from 1933, the evolution of its policies toward the Jewish people, and the liberation of Nazi concentration camps in 1945 by the Allied forces, according to the White House statement.
The tour concluded at the Hall of Remembrance where Trump participated in a moment of silence by the Eternal Flame Memorial, followed by a lighting of a candle at the Prayer Wall.
Melania Trump, who has not been a daily presence in public during the first year of the Trump administration, has been little seen in Washington since Christmas. The last time cameras found her was on Jan. 15, when she and her husband and son returned to the White House from a weekend at their Florida resort Mar-a-Lago.