Melania Trump’s comments come after former chief of staff alleged she did not sign off on statement to condemn violence at Capitol
First lady Melania Trump sits down at her table after speaking during the Governors’ Spouses’ luncheon in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington on Feb. 10, 2020. (AP)
EXCLUSIVE: Former first lady Melania Trump said Thursday that she was “fulfilling” her official duties as first lady of the U.S. on Jan. 6, 2021, telling Fox News Digital exclusively that had she been fully informed of the events taking place at the Capitol during the day, she “would have immediately denounced the violence.”
Trump’s comments come after her former chief of staff Stephanie Grisham has publicly alleged that the former first lady did not immediately sign off on a statement condemning the Capitol riot.
“On January 6, 2021, I was fulfilling one of my duties as First Lady of the United States of America, and accordingly, I was unaware of what was simultaneously transpiring at the U.S. Capitol Building,” Trump told Fox News Digital.
“As with all First Ladies who preceded me, it was my obligation to record the contents of the White House’s historic rooms, including taking archival photographs of all the renovations. Several months in advance, I organized a qualified team of photographers, archivists, and designers to work with me in the White House to ensure perfect execution,” she continued. “As required, we scheduled January 6, 2021, to complete the work on behalf of our Nation.”
The former first lady added that “this is a very significant undertaking and requires great care, attention to detail, and concentration — both in the planning and execution.”
Trump went on to say that she has “always been very supportive of my former Chief of Staff, Stephanie Grisham.”
“I stood behind Ms. Grisham after her failed stint as White House Press Secretary and welcomed her back to the East Wing,” Trump said.
Grisham started her White House tenure in the first lady’s office, and later served as White House press secretary following Sarah Sanders’ departure during the summer of 2019. She returned to the East Wing when Kayleigh McEnany was tapped for the role in April 2020.
“Ms. Grisham was not in the White House on January 6, and her behavior in her role as Chief of Staff ultimately amounts to dereliction of duty,” Trump said, noting that “traditionally, the First Lady’s Chief of Staff provides detailed briefings surrounding our Nation’s important issues.”
“In fact, Ms. Grisham failed to provide insight and information into the events surrounding January 6 as she had abandoned her post in Washington, D.C.,” she continued. “Shamefully, this behavior has only partially become public knowledge; yet was consistent for Ms. Grisham.”
Trump added: “It is evident that Grisham’s recent betrayals are a last-ditch attempt to resuscitate her ruined career and reputation.”
Grisham last month tweeted out a screenshot of a text message conversation she allegedly had with the former first lady on Jan. 6, 2021.
“Do you want to tweet that peaceful protests are the right of every American, but there is no place for lawlessness & violence?” Grisham purportedly texted Trump.
“No,” Trump purportedly replied.
Grisham’s screenshot shows the two text messages occurred with a contact saved as “MT.”
Grisham shared the screenshot a day after former Trump aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified before the Jan. 6 committee.
“Knowing her as well as I did at that point, it was so unlike her to not have condemned it, that that was the moment it all kind of broke me,” Grisham said in an interview last month with CNN. “Yesterday, hearing Cassidy’s testimony, I felt compelled to show that text because it was a lot of context I thought, and again, knowing Melania like I did, I was so disappointed and discouraged and sickened that she wouldn’t stand up and just say simply, ‘There should be no violence.’”
But Trump told Fox News on Thursday: “I always condemn violence.”
“Had I been fully informed of all the details, naturally, I would have immediately denounced the violence that occurred at the Capitol Building,” Trump said. “And while Ms. Grisham’s behavior is disappointing, it is not surprising or an isolated incident.”
She added: “This is not the first time a former staffer has tried to maintain relevancy and profit by using my name to create a false narrative.”
Pro-Trump rioters breached the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, during a joint session of Congress to certify the Electoral College results in favor of President Biden. Several people died in connection with the riot.
The Jan. 6 committee is now holding a series of hearings to attempt to capture Americans’ attention before the November midterm elections — as they compete with inflation, rising gas prices and more for political attention.
Former President Donald Trump, posting on his TRUTH Social before the committee’s first hearing, slammed the “corrupt politicians” on the panel, and blasted them as “political thugs.”
Brooke Singman is a Fox News Digital politics reporter. You can reach her at [email protected] or @BrookeSingman on Twitter.