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Melania Trump defends renovation work, leaves with 47% approval rating

Melania Trump defended her controversial renovation work in the White House as a new poll showed she is leaving with a lower approval rating than that of the three first ladies who proceeded her.

Melania Trump is leaving the White House with a lower approval rating that the three first ladies who proceeded her

Melania Trump is leaving the White House with a lower approval rating that the three first ladies who proceeded her

Melania Trump is leaving the White House with a lower approval rating that the three first ladies who proceeded her

She will depart on Wednesday with 47 per cent approval of her tenure, 12 points less than Michelle Obama who left a 69 per cent approval rating of her job as first lady, according to a CNN/ORC poll.

Laura Bush exited the White House with a 67 per cent approval rating and Hillary Clinton was at 56 per cent upon her departure as first lady.

Melania Trump’s approval rating, however, is much higher than her husband’s – by double digits. Only 33 per cent approve of the job President Donald Trump has done.

First ladies traditionally have higher poll numbers than their husbands given their roles is much less political. 

But Melania Trump, 50, has taken a low-key approach to the job compared to her predecessors. She has spent her final days in the White House out of sight, packing up the family belongings and preparing for the next chapter in their lives.

Unlike the president, Melania’s @FLOTUS twitter account remains active. On Monday morning she posted a message marking Martin Luther King Day and last week she posted a video celebrating her Be Best initiative, a kindness project that never caught fire like Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move or Laura Bush’s National Book Festival. 

Also on Monday, she also posted a final message, defending the renovation work she oversaw during her four years in the White House.

Under her careful eye, the White House Bowling Alley, Tennis Pavilion and Rose Garden under went redesigns. 

Most of Melania’s work was subject to criticism, however, particularly when she posted on social media about the pavilion, which was being redone while the country battled the COVID epidemic and the economy was tanking. Online critics compared the first lady to Maria Antoinette. 

But Melania defended that work, claiming ‘over the course of 2020, our country has suffered the devastating and unexpected loss of life due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The economic impact of the pandemic, which has been felt by so many in this country, has profoundly shaped our shared experience of American life.’

‘As a result, it was with a great sensitivity to the wider national backdrop that I unveiled two long-planned projects on the White House grounds,’ she added, referring to the pavilion and the installation of ‘Floor Frame’ sculpture by Isamu Noguchi in the newly restored Rose Garden. 

In the 850-word essay posted to the White House website, the first lady wrote she undertook the work to preserve the house’s heritage. 

‘The projects that I have overseen during the last four years are ones which I believe will not only preserve the house’s heritage but enhance the experience of its beauty and solemnity for generations to come,’ she noted in the piece entitled ‘Honoring American Craftsmanship in the People’s House.’

She hinted she left work to be finished by her successor, Jill Biden.

‘The restoration and conservation of the priceless Zuber wallpaper in the Family Dining Room, perhaps the most ambitious project of the Administration, remains to be completed, and will be, I hope, admired by all who see its beauty,’ Melania noted. 

She thanked the staff and craftsmen who worked on the projects with her. 

‘As this chapter comes to a close, it is important to acknowledge the many people and departments without whom my role as First Lady would not have been possible. Both the White House Office of the Curator and the White House Historical Association have worked tirelessly to ensure these projects met their standards of preservation, conservation, and scholarly excellence. I am grateful for those who in a private capacity have so generously donated to my initiatives and to the collection as a whole,’ she noted. 

Melania Trump posted a final message defending the renovation work she oversaw in the White House, including controversial projects like the Tennis Pavilion

Melania Trump posted a final message defending the renovation work she oversaw in the White House, including controversial projects like the Tennis Pavilion

Melania Trump posted a final message defending the renovation work she oversaw in the White House, including controversial projects like the Tennis Pavilion

Ivanka Trump posted a photo of her three children leaving their hand prints in the White House Children's Garden - a tradition of presidential grand children

Ivanka Trump posted a photo of her three children leaving their hand prints in the White House Children's Garden - a tradition of presidential grand children

Ivanka Trump posted a photo of her three children leaving their hand prints in the White House Children’s Garden – a tradition of presidential grand children

The Tennis Pavilion was being redone while the country battled the COVID epidemic and the economy was tanking. Online critics compared the first lady to Maria Antoinette

The Tennis Pavilion was being redone while the country battled the COVID epidemic and the economy was tanking. Online critics compared the first lady to Maria Antoinette

The Tennis Pavilion was being redone while the country battled the COVID epidemic and the economy was tanking. Online critics compared the first lady to Maria Antoinette

Melania was criticized for her work in the White House Rose Garden, where she returned the layout closer to the original design in the time of John F. Kennedy

Melania was criticized for her work in the White House Rose Garden, where she returned the layout closer to the original design in the time of John F. Kennedy

Melania was criticized for her work in the White House Rose Garden, where she returned the layout closer to the original design in the time of John F. Kennedy

Laura Bush and Michelle Obama, seen together at the African First Ladies Summit in Tanzania, on July 2, 2013, left the White House with higher approval ratings than Melania

Laura Bush and Michelle Obama, seen together at the African First Ladies Summit in Tanzania, on July 2, 2013, left the White House with higher approval ratings than Melania

Laura Bush and Michelle Obama, seen together at the African First Ladies Summit in Tanzania, on July 2, 2013, left the White House with higher approval ratings than Melania

But in her four years in the national spotlight, Melania Trump made more news for what she has worn – the infamous ‘I really don’t care’ jacket on a Texas trip and her pith helmet on her Africa trip – that for what she’s done. 

Her rare public comments – like her statement after the January 6th MAGA riot at the Capitol – resulted in her being called selfish for focusing on gossip about herself. 

Melania Trump Renovation Projects 

2018

First full renovation of the Queen’s Bathroom since the 1950s

Updated and restored ‘The President’s Elevator’

2019

Restoration of the East Room floor

The White House Bowling Alley

2020

White House Rose Garden

Installation of ‘Floor Frame’ sculpture by Isamu Noguchi in Rose Garden

Refurbishment of the Children’s Garden

Construction of the new White House Tennis Pavilion 

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Melania Trump hasn’t been seen in public since December 31, when the Trumps returned from their Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida where they had spent the holidays.

She is scheduled to leave the White House with the president Wednesday morning, where there will be a departure ceremony at Joint Base Andrews before the couple flies to Florida, where they intend to live. Melania has reportedly been looking at schools in the area for their son Barron, 14. 

Melania, like her husband, will skip Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony, where he will become the 46th president. 

She’ll also be visibly absent when Jill Biden, Michelle Obama, Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton join their husbands at Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday afternoon to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider. 

The images from that event will be stark but incomplete – a line of presidents and first ladies without the most recent occupants of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. 

It’s unclear if the Trumps will join the former presidents and first ladies at the ritual events that usually command their presence – state funerals, presidential library openings, inauguration ceremonies, and others.  

Melania Trump has not reached out to Jill Biden nor offered the tour that Michelle Obama gave her – as all other modern departing first ladies have given their successors – that of the residence on the upper floors of the White House. 

But staff in the East Wing are preparing transition binders, a source with knowledge of the situation told DailyMail.com last week, as part of a greater White House transition effort for the incoming Biden administration. 

It’s unclear what’s in store for Melania Trump after life in the White House. She has made no indication she plans to keep up her ‘Be Best’ campaign or her work with the military once her husband leaves office. She has not given an exit interview.

Some of her last words as first lady sparked a bit of controversy. 

Last Monday, she broke her silence on the January 6th mob attack on the Capitol. But critics accused her of playing the victim in her message. 

Five days after the attacked that resulted in five deaths, the first lady published a statement that acknowledged the deaths of her husband’s supporters before the deaths of two Capitol Police officers – and lashed out extensively at ‘gossip’ about her.

‘My heart goes out to: Air Force Veteran, Ashli Babbit, Benjamin Philips, Kevin Greeson, Rosanne Boyland, and Capitol Police Officers, Brian Sicknick and Howard Liebengood. I pray for their families comfort and strength during this difficult time,’ she wrote.

But in her 600-word essay published by the White House, she quickly turned the situation to herself, slamming the ‘salacious gossip, unwarranted personal attacks, and false misleading accusations on me’ – a reference to reports she was conducting a photo shoot in the White House during the MAGA mob scene. 

‘I find it shameful that surrounding these tragic events there has been salacious gossip, unwarranted personal attacks, and false misleading accusations on me – from people who are looking to be relevant and have an agenda. This time is solely about healing our country and its citizens. It should not be used for personal gain,’ she wrote in the message entitled Our Path Forward. 

The essay is filled with spelling errors – Babbit’s name was spelled wrong – it was Babbitt – and grammatical mistakes that were later corrected in the version online.

While Melania has largely stayed quiet during Donald Trump’s attempts to illegally reverse the election results, she has echoed the president’s misleading language of ‘counting legal votes’ and has not publicly acknowledged Joe Biden’s victory. 

But she wrote in her latest message that ‘it has been the honor of my lifetime to serve as your first lady’, a tacit acknowledgement that her term is nearly over.    

It's unclear what Melania Trump will do after life in the White House; she has reportedly been looking at schools in Florida for Barron - the Trump family seen together in August 2020

It's unclear what Melania Trump will do after life in the White House; she has reportedly been looking at schools in Florida for Barron - the Trump family seen together in August 2020

It’s unclear what Melania Trump will do after life in the White House; she has reportedly been looking at schools in Florida for Barron – the Trump family seen together in August 2020

Melania Trump made more news for what she has worn - such as the infamous 'I really don't care' jacket on a Texas trip in June 2018 - that for what she's done

Melania Trump made more news for what she has worn - such as the infamous 'I really don't care' jacket on a Texas trip in June 2018 - that for what she's done

Melania Trump made more news for what she has worn – such as the infamous ‘I really don’t care’ jacket on a Texas trip in June 2018 – that for what she’s done

Melania Trump caused controversy during her October 2018 Africa trip when she wore a pith helmet – a symbol of colonial rule across Africa

Melania Trump caused controversy during her October 2018 Africa trip when she wore a pith helmet – a symbol of colonial rule across Africa

Melania Trump caused controversy during her October 2018 Africa trip when she wore a pith helmet – a symbol of colonial rule across Africa

Melania Trump's Be Best campaign never caught fire like Michelle Obama's Let's Move or Laura Bush's National Book Festival

Melania Trump's Be Best campaign never caught fire like Michelle Obama's Let's Move or Laura Bush's National Book Festival

Melania Trump’s Be Best campaign never caught fire like Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move or Laura Bush’s National Book Festival 

As a White House source told The Mail on Sunday that during Wednesday’s siege of the Capitol, the first lady was in the East Wing of the White House overseeing a photo shoot for a new coffee table book about presidential artifacts.

‘The heart of US government was under siege, our very democracy on the line, but Mrs Trump was calmly arranging porcelain figurines for the photographer,’ the source said, saying even the most loyal remaining Trump staffers were left ‘dumbfounded’ by her actions.

Aides even asked Melania to intercede on the day of the riot, to force her husband to publicly decry the insurgency, but she refused.

‘She said nothing. She remained silent and carried on arranging a vase for the shoot. She checked out of this presidency and her marriage a long time ago.’ 

Additionally, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who worked in the East Wing in the early days of the administration and then wrote a memoir of her time there that painted Melania in an unflattering light, wrote in The Daily Beast that she is ‘ashamed’ to have ever worked for the first lady.

‘I can’t believe how blind I was to the depth of her deception and lack of common decency,’ Wolkoff wrote.

Without mentioning those claims directly in her statement, Melania condemned what she said were ‘false misleading accusations on me’ from ‘people who are looking to be relevant and have an agenda’.  

The first lady said she was praying for the families of the four protesters and two Capitol Police officers who died in the hours and days after the attack. 

She added that ‘our nation must heal in a civil manner’, after President Trump initially praised the mob as ‘very special’ but later condemned the violence. 

‘Make no mistake about it, I absolutely condemn the violence that has occurred on our Nation’s Capitol. Violence is never acceptable,’ she wrote. 

She went on: ‘As an American, I am proud of our freedom to express our viewpoints without persecution. It is one of the paramount ideals which America is fundamentally built on. 

‘Many have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect that right. With that in mind, I would like to call on the citizens of this country to take a moment, pause, and look at things from all perspectives. 

‘I implore people to stop the violence, never make assumptions based on the color of a person’s skin or use differing political ideologies as a basis for aggression and viciousness. We must listen to one another, focus on what unites us, and rise above what divides us. 

‘It is inspiring to see that so many have found a passion and enthusiasm in participating in an election, but we must not allow that passion to turn to violence. 

‘Our path forward is to come together, find our commonalities, and be the kind and strong people that I know we are.’ 

Michelle Obama, Melania Trump, President Donald Trump and President Barack Obama on January 20th, 2017 - the day Trump was inaugurated

Michelle Obama, Melania Trump, President Donald Trump and President Barack Obama on January 20th, 2017 - the day Trump was inaugurated

Michelle Obama, Melania Trump, President Donald Trump and President Barack Obama on January 20th, 2017 – the day Trump was inaugurated

Laura Bush meets with incoming first lady Michelle Obama in the White House residence in November 2008 to give her a tour of where the first family lives

Laura Bush meets with incoming first lady Michelle Obama in the White House residence in November 2008 to give her a tour of where the first family lives

Laura Bush meets with incoming first lady Michelle Obama in the White House residence in November 2008 to give her a tour of where the first family lives 

Michelle Obama meets with Melania Trump in the White House residence shortly after the November 2008 election to give her a tour

Michelle Obama meets with Melania Trump in the White House residence shortly after the November 2008 election to give her a tour

Michelle Obama meets with Melania Trump in the White House residence shortly after the November 2008 election to give her a tour

It's unclear if the Trumps will join  other presidents and first ladies at occasions such as state funerals - above President Trump, Melania Trump, President Obama, Michelle Obama, President Clinton and Hillary Clinton at President George H.W. Bush's funeral in December 2018

It's unclear if the Trumps will join  other presidents and first ladies at occasions such as state funerals - above President Trump, Melania Trump, President Obama, Michelle Obama, President Clinton and Hillary Clinton at President George H.W. Bush's funeral in December 2018

It’s unclear if the Trumps will join  other presidents and first ladies at occasions such as state funerals – above President Trump, Melania Trump, President Obama, Michelle Obama, President Clinton and Hillary Clinton at President George H.W. Bush’s funeral in December 2018

Laura Bush, President George W. Bush, President Bill Clinton, Hilary Clinton, President Barack Obama, President George H. W. Bush, Michelle Obama and Melania Trump pose for a group photo at the funeral ceremony for the late first lady Barbara Bush in April 2018

Laura Bush, President George W. Bush, President Bill Clinton, Hilary Clinton, President Barack Obama, President George H. W. Bush, Michelle Obama and Melania Trump pose for a group photo at the funeral ceremony for the late first lady Barbara Bush in April 2018

Laura Bush, President George W. Bush, President Bill Clinton, Hilary Clinton, President Barack Obama, President George H. W. Bush, Michelle Obama and Melania Trump pose for a group photo at the funeral ceremony for the late first lady Barbara Bush in April 2018

Melania Trump was last seen in public on December 31, above, when she and President Trump returned from Mar-a-Lago where they spent the holidays

Melania Trump was last seen in public on December 31, above, when she and President Trump returned from Mar-a-Lago where they spent the holidays

Melania Trump was last seen in public on December 31, above, when she and President Trump returned from Mar-a-Lago where they spent the holidays

Praising Americans for their ‘strength and character’ during the pandemic, Melania also voiced thanks to the ‘millions of Americans who supported my husband and me over the past four years’.  

In November, she had drawn ire by writing on Twitter that ‘every legal – not illegal – vote should be counted’, implying that the result hinged on illegal votes as President Trump was falsely claiming.  

But she concluded Monday’s message by saying: ‘Most importantly, I ask for healing, grace, understanding, and peace for our great Nation.’

‘Every day let us remember that we are one Nation under God. God bless you all and God bless the United States of America.’ 

Melania’s Final Message 

Melania Trump posted a final message as first lady: Honoring American Craftsmanship in the People’s House

Over the last four years, my family has had the immense honor of being able to call the “People’s House” our home. We were welcomed and supported in this personal journey by a team whose dedication to the house in which they serve transcends administrations and serves as the living legacy of a building that remains the symbolic epicenter of our national life.

As First Lady, and as the temporary custodian of this national treasure, I was inspired by the example of my predecessors. Their reverence for the White House, and their love of history ensured the long-term preservation of the building in which they both served and lived. In similar fashion, the projects that I have overseen during the last four years are ones which I believe will not only preserve the house’s heritage but enhance the experience of its beauty and solemnity for generations to come.

Through a team of dedicated advisors whose passion rose above mere cosmetic alterations, my attention was brought to areas of the house which were in great need of structural restoration and preservation. In 2018, we completed the first full renovation of the Queen’s Bathroom since the 1950s. Our goal of updating and restoring “The President’s Elevator,” which is used by the First Family, visiting dignitaries, and White House staff, was accomplished in the same year. In 2019 we embarked on a several months-long restoration of the East Room floor, which brought to life the true magnificence of this historic space. This was done in tandem with work performed on the marble floors of the State Entrance and Hallway. These are the first areas to greet all visitors to the White House, and the impact of the painstaking work of re-grouting, restoring and then re-polishing them has been profound.

The Bowling Alley also underwent a full renovation in 2019, and I hope it will be a space that is enjoyed by all who use it. The restoration and conservation of the priceless Zuber wallpaper in the Family Dining Room, perhaps the most ambitious project of the Administration, remains to be completed, and will be, I hope, admired by all who see its beauty. The advice and input of the White House curatorial team was critical to the success of such endeavors, and it was with great pride that I was able to work with them directly to renovate their offices and ensure they had the necessary archival and curatorial infrastructure to enable the continuation of their invaluable work on the collection.

Throughout, our goal has been to balance the needs of the present with the continuity of overall architectural tradition of the White House. This aim could not have been realized without the group of American craftsman whose knowledge and enthusiasm ensured the work was completed through the application of traditional methodsthat keep with the long history of the building itself.

Over the course of 2020, our country has suffered the devastating and unexpected loss of life due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The economic impact of the pandemic, which has been felt by so many in this country, has profoundly shaped our shared experience of American life. As a result, it was with a great sensitivity to the wider national backdrop that I unveiled two long-planned projects on the White House grounds. In November 2020, we publicly marked the installation of “Floor Frame” by Isamu Noguchi in the newly restored Rose Garden. The Rose Garden celebrates the history of many previous First Ladies, and it was my privilege to introduce into its design the first work completed by an Asian-American artist to enter the White House collection. The simplicity and beauty of Nogochi’s sculpture provides an enduring message of strength, which felt particularly relevant at the moment of its unveiling.

Shortly thereafter, in December 2020, I had the great privilege to announce the completion of the the refurbishment of the Children’s Garden and the construction of the new White House Tennis Pavilion.This project planing began in 2018 and was approved by the Commission of Fine Arts and the National Capital Planning Commission in June 2019. The Tennis Pavilion was constructed in partnership with the Trust for the National Mall and the National Park Service, and funded entirely through private donation. The team of American designers, builders and artisans, who relied on locally sourced materials, created for the Nation a monumental addition to this historic home that I know will be part of its enduring legacy. Their achievement was made all the more notable as it was accomplished despite the many challenges they faced because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As this chapter comes to a close, it is important to acknowledge the many people and departments without whom my role as First Lady would not have been possible. Both the White House Office of the Curator and the White House Historical Association have worked tirelessly to ensure these projects met their standards of preservation, conservation, and scholarly excellence. I am grateful for those who in a private capacity have so generously donated to my initiatives and to the collection as a whole.

Sincerely,

Melania Trump

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Source: Daily Mail |World News

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