U.S. first lady Melania Trump on Monday said she was “disappointed and disheartened” by the storming of the U.S. Capitol by a mob of supporters of her husband looking to overturn his loss for re-election, but also said it was “shameful” that she was the subject of what she characterized as “salacious gossip” and “unwarranted personal attacks.”
In a statement from the White House, the first lady voiced her grief at the deaths of six people linked to last Wednesday’s mayhem at the Capitol, including Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, and a second officer, Howard Liebengood, who had responded to the chaos at the Capitol but committed suicide over the weekend while off duty.
“Our nation must heal in a civil manner,” Melania Trump said. “Make no mistake about it, I absolutely condemn the violence that has occurred on our nation’s Capitol. Violence is never acceptable.”
She added, “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.”
President Donald Trump urged thousands of his supporters to march to the Capitol during a January 6 rally near the White House where, as he had for weeks, leveled unfounded accusations that he was cheated out of re-election.
Hours later as his supporters stormed the Capitol, he urged them to “go home” but also told them, "We love you, you're very special."
In the early hours of January 7, after police restored order in the Capitol, lawmakers certified the Electoral College victory of Democrat Joe Biden, who is set to be inaugurated as the country’s 46th president in nine days.
The first lady on Monday also pushed back against those who had questioned her silence about the Capitol building violence until this point.
“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,” she said. “This time is solely about healing our country and its citizens. It should not be used for personal gain.”
She may have been directing her comments at least in part at Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former adviser and friend who wrote in a Daily Beast article over the weekend that Melania Trump has been an enabler of her husband and has “blood on her hands.”
“I wish I could say I was shocked by President Trump’s actions, but sadly I cannot, or say I don’t comprehend Melania’s silence and inactions, but pathetically, they are both expected,” Wolkoff wrote. “Melania knows how to ‘Be Best’ at standing up and reading from a teleprompter and not from the heart. She and her husband lack character and have no moral compass.”
Melania Trump also appeared to be saying farewell to her time in the White House before her husband’s term ends at noon on January 20.
“It has been the honor of my lifetime to serve as your First Lady,” she said.
“I want to thank the millions of Americans who supported my husband and me over the past 4 years and shown the incredible impact of the American spirit. I am grateful to you all for letting me serve you on platforms which are dear to me.”
President Trump on Monday ordered American flags to be flown at half-staff through Wednesday at sunset to honor Sicknick and Liebengood.