US first lady Melania Trump has claimed she is the victim of “salacious gossip” and “unwarranted personal attacks” in an off-key response to the Capitol riot incited by her husband, president Donald Trump.
“I am disappointed and disheartened with what happened last week,” she said in a statement released on Monday. It came after a former aide called her out for having “little regard” for human life and democracy.
Melania Trump continued: “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.”
Melania Trump’s former aide and friend, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, called herself an “enabler” of the first lady in a scathing essay published over the weekend on US news site The Daily Beast.
“It was an assault on human life and our great democracy,” Wolkoff wrote of the riot. “Unfortunately, our president and first lady have little, if any, regard for either.”
Wolkoff, who wrote a tell-all book about her relationship with the first lady, said she had “stoked and massaged their egos and wittingly agreed to the falsehoods and poisonous lies, veiled as truths, that built this house of mirrors”.
Melania Trump’s current top aide, Stephanie Grisham, resigned last week.
The first lady did not address her husband’s role in inciting the mob that attacked the Capitol. She tried to play peacemaker in her statement, however.
“Our nation must heal in a civil manner,” she said. “Make no mistake about it, I absolutely condemn the violence that has occurred on our nation’s Capitol. Violence is never acceptable.
“I implore people to stop the violence, never make assumptions based on the colo[u]r 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.”