In tapes secretly recorded in the summer of 2018 by a former senior adviser, First Lady Melania Trump offered a candid and cold rant about the plight of migrant children separated by their families at the border, and juxtaposed criticism of the child separation policies to her White House Christmas decorations.
"They say I'm complicit. I'm the same like him, I support him. I don't say enough, I don't do enough where I am," she said in one recording by Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former senior adviser and friend to Trump who wrote a book about their relationship, titled Melania and Me.
"I'm working my ass off on the Christmas stuff, that you know, who gives a f*** about the Christmas stuff and decorations? But I need to do it, right?" Trump continued in the audio, which was first broadcast by CNN. "OK, and then I do it and I say that I'm working on Christmas and planning for the Christmas and they said, 'Oh, what about the children that they were separated?' Give me a f****** break. Where they were saying anything when Obama did that? I can not go, I was trying get the kid reunited with the mom. I didn't have a chance–needs to go through the process and through the law."
The first lady's chief of staff, Stephanie Grisham, blasted Wolkoff in a statement. "Her only intent was to secretly tape the first lady in order to peddle herself and her salacious book,” Grisham said, per The New York Times. “There is no way to know if these recordings have been edited, and it’s clear the clips were handpicked and presented with no context. The first lady remains focused on her family and serving our country.”
The tapes were recorded a few weeks after Trump gained flak for wearing a jacket emblazoned with the words, "I really don't care. Do U?" while visiting a facility for migrant children in Texas. When asked why she chose that attire, Trump responded, “I’m driving liberals crazy, that’s for sure. And that, you know, that’s—and they deserve it, you understand. And everybody’s like, ‘Oh, my God. This is the worst. This is the worst.’ After, I mean, come on. They are crazy, OK?”
She also criticised media outlets for not covering her efforts to help reunite some children with their parents. “They will not do the story. We put it out. They would not do the story. You would not believe it. They would not do the story because they are not—they would not do the story because they are against us because they are liberal media," she told Wolkoff. "Yeah, if I go to Fox, they will do the story. I don’t want to go to Fox.”
In another recording, Trump praises the quality of the detention centres and mimics the supposed reactions of the separated children. "The kids, they say, 'Wow I will have my own bed? I will sleep on the bed? I will have a cabinet for my clothes?' It's so sad to hear it but they didn't have that in their own countries, they sleep on the floor," she said. "They are taken care of nicely there. But you know, yeah, they are not with parents, it's sad. But when they come here alone or with coyotes or illegally, you know, you need to do something."
Still, Trump questioned the motives of those migrants who make the dangerous journey to cross the border. "A lot of like moms and kids they are teached how to do it. They go over and they say like, 'Oh, we will be killed by a gang member, we will be, you know, it's so dangerous.' So they are allowed to stay here," Trump said in the recording. "They're not professional but they are teached by other people what to say to come over and to you know let them go to stay here. Because they could easily stay in Mexico but they don't want to stay in Mexico because Mexico doesn't take care of them the same as America does."
The tapes come just a month before the presidential election on November 3.
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