It’s safe to say the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection was a pretty terrible way to start off 2021. And somehow, then-President Donald Trump’s response (or rather, significant lack thereof) was even worse. Now, eight months after the explosive chain of events, former White House press secretary/East Wing chief of staff Stephanie Grisham is sharing new details about the former first lady’s apparent response to the riot, and it’s exactly what you’d expect. Melania Trump's reported reaction to the Jan. 6 insurrection is.... well, I’m disappointed, but not surprised.
Grisham, best known for never holding a press briefing during her time as press secretary, is gearing up to release a tell-all about her time in the White House, titled I'll Take Your Questions Now: What I Saw in The Trump White House. In a preview of her memoir given to Politico, Grisham laid out the scene — It was 1:25 p.m. on Jan. 6, and rioters had just broken through barricades outside the U.S. Capitol building. Grisham, then the chief of staff for the first lady, texted Melania Trump about how to respond. “Do you want to tweet that peaceful protests are the right of every American, but there is no place for lawlessness and violence?” Grisham reportedly asked the first lady.
Trump, however, didn’t bite. “No,” the former first lady reportedly replied.
According to Politico’s preview of Grisham’s incoming book, Trump was “at the White House preparing for a photo shoot of a rug she had selected” when the riots were ensuing. Grisham, a years-long Trump loyalist who continually defended Trump against accusations of being “a Marie Antoinette-type dilettante,” said the first lady’s response “broke” her — she resigned from her position just a few hours later. Now, Grisham compares Trump to “the doomed French queen” in her book, calling her “dismissive,” “defeated,” and “detached.”
For her part, the former first lady has been dismissive of Grisham’s claims. “The intent behind this book is obvious,” Melania Trump’s office told Politico in a Sept. 13 statement. “It is an attempt to redeem herself after a poor performance as press secretary, failed personal relationships, and unprofessional behavior in the White House. Through mistruth and betrayal, she seeks to gain relevance and money at the expense of Mrs. Trump.”
The anecdote about Jan. 6 is hardly the only unflattering moment for Trump in the book. According to Grisham, after Donald Trump’s loss in the November 2020 election, she texted the former first lady to encourage her to contact Jill Biden about setting up the traditional inauguration tea. But instead of setting up the meeting, Trump reportedly told Grisham they should “see what the West Wing does.” Apparently, Trump also believed the former president when he baselessly claimed the November 2020 election was rigged against him.
This isn’t the first time a former friend or assistant of the first lady has spilled some tea. In a July 2018 recording taken by her former aide, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, Trump can be heard badmouthing detained immigrant children at the border, suggesting they’re being coached to lie about being asylum seekers — and even stating these children were grateful for their living conditions after being detained and forcefully separated from their parents. “A lot of, you know, a lot of like, moms and kids — they are teached how to do it,” Trump can be heard saying in the recording, which was released in October 2020. “They go over and they say, ‘Oh we will be killed by gang member, it's so dangerous,’ so they will be allowed to stay [in America],” she added. Representatives for the former first lady did not respond to Elite Daily’s request for comment at the time.
However, in a statement to CNN at the time, Grisham herself — then still the first lady’s chief of staff — defended Trump. “Secretly taping the first lady and willfully breaking an NDA to publish a salacious book is a clear attempt at relevance,” Grisham told CNN. Oh, the irony.
So, is it really all that surprising to find out that Trump responded so unenthusiastically when she found out rioters were storming the nation’s Capitol in the president’s name? It’s definitely not, but it does make me curious about what else went on in the White House while Trump was in office. Grisham’s book is scheduled for release on Oct. 5.