All eyes were on Melania Trump during Tuesday night’s State of the Union address as she publicly shared a room with her husband for the first time since a report that his lawyer paid hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels.
It was a big room: the House of Representatives chamber of the United States Capitol. President Trump quickly acknowledged his wife when he said early in his speech that Coast Guard hero Ashlee Leppert was seated “with Melania.”
On Tuesday afternoon, just hours before the speech, Melania Trump tweeted: “I will be joined tonight by an honorable group of Americans. Sitting with me are heroes who have served our nation in times of need, families who have suffered at the hands of evil, and citizens who have embraced the American dream.”
CNN reported that Melania arrived at the Capitol building accompanied by her guests — breaking from the longstanding tradition of first couples traveling together to the State of the Union.
The First Lady has kept a low profile since the Wall Street Journal reported that Daniels was paid $130,000 just before the 2016 presidential election to keep her quiet about what several sources said was a sexual encounter with Donald Trump in 2006 — a year after the Trumps got married, and while Melania was pregnant with their son, Barron.
News of the affair “blindsided the first lady, who was furious with her husband,” two people close to the couple told The New York Times.
Adding fuel to the speculation that the couple has hit a rocky patch, Melania Trump cancelled a trip with the president to Davos, and flew to the couple’s Florida retreat, Mar-a-Lago, alone.
Even the White House’s announcement that Melania Trump would attend her husband’s State of the Union address sounded a little tentative.
“That is the plan,” her spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, told the Times in an email.
Reports surrounding the couple’s marital problems are nothing new. An awkward video caught the First Lady beaming at her husband during his inauguration before her face turned somber as he turned around.
— Ashley Feinberg (@ashleyfeinberg) January 23, 2017
During a trip to Israel last year, the First Lady appeared to swat her husband’s hand away with a flick of her wrist.