CNN – As thousands of pro-Trump supporters flocked to Washington, DC on Wednesday, they headed first to the Ellipse to hear President Donald Trump speak, then to the United States Capitol to besiege the epicenter of American Democracy, First Lady Melania Trump was doing a photoshoot at the White House.
Professional lighting, the kind used for photography and videography, could be seen through the windows of the White House. “Photos of rugs and other items were taken in the Executive Residence and East Wing,” a person familiar with the day’s activities with the first lady told CNN. Trump – who, as CNN reported, expressed interest in writing a book about the decorative items she collected and restored at the White House – was overseeing the photo project, the source said, with his remaining time in the White House is weakening.
A few blocks away, national terrorists stormed the United States Capitol in a riot her husband sparked earlier in the day at the rally. As footage of the crowds entering the Capitol consumed the airwaves, the first lady focused – along with White House chief bailiff Timothy Harleth – on the end of filming. Media, including CNN, and members of its staff were asking if Trump intended to tweet a statement of calm or a call to end the violence – something she had done a few months earlier during the protests around the police murder of George Floyd. She does not have.
Instead, the first lady was calm and stayed that way. Her disinterest in addressing the country was telling to be “scrutinized,” said another White House source, who added, “she just isn’t in a mentally or emotionally place anymore where she wants to be. involve”.
Except with the furniture.
On Wednesday night, two of her first hires as first lady, Chief of Staff Stephanie Grisham – who has also been Trump’s closest advisor, editor and spokesperson – and Anna Cristina “Rickie” Niceta, social secretary of the White House, had tendered their resignation. effective immediately. CNN has confirmed that Grisham and Niceta quit their jobs in large part because of Wednesday’s events.
Much has been said about the influence of the first lady on her husband. But it was Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter, who held an emergency meeting with him in the Oval Office on Wednesday, where she urged him to call for an end to the violence.
Still, the first lady and the president, as reported by CNN, have a close relationship, which is sometimes surprising to those who have interpreted salacious stories about Trump’s alleged adulterous behavior and their physical distance as a sign of aversion. The first lady speaks on the phone throughout the day with the president, according to several sources who have witnessed it – from both wings of the building – and she is the first to share with her husband her thoughts on national and international issues. .
While the bulk of her public statements in recent months have been tied to holiday decorations, on November 8, she revealingly tweeted her support for Trump’s baseless fight against the election results. “The American people deserve a fair election,” said the first lady. “Every legal – not illegal – vote must be counted. We must protect our democracy with transparency.” It wasn’t much, but it was enough to indicate that she was on his side.
The first lady has also not hesitated when her opinions differ from those of her husband, tweeting – either alone or through Grisham as a spokesperson – posts that appear to be at odds with hers.
But this week was not one of those times.
CNN has contacted the East Wing on several occasions, before and after Grisham’s departure, to ask for comment on the first lady’s thoughts on Wednesday’s events, or if she had a comment at all. The requests were not answered.
The Trump children
Along with the first lady, the other three most influential people in Trump’s orbit are his oldest children, Don Jr., Ivanka and Eric Trump, all of whom amplified their father’s voice after his election defeat, calling Americans to “fight” against what they saw as baseless as a corrupt election.
Trump Jr. was among a list of speakers at the Ellipse on Wednesday morning, more than willing to ignite a group of already blindly loyal and largely furious supporters. “This rally should send them a message. It is no longer their Republican party,” blasted Trump Jr. “It is Donald Trump’s Republican party.”
He addressed lawmakers in his hype speech, which was strewn with swear words: “You can be a hero, or you can be a zero. And the choice is yours. But we are all watching. The whole world is watching, friends. Choose wisely. “
Eric Trump and his wife Lara also spoke and listened with big smiles to the crowd of thousands serenading young Trump with “Happy Birthday”; he was 37 years old. The couple vehemently decried the democratic electoral process and the will of the American voters who elected Joe Biden as president. The crowd loved it.
“We live in the biggest country in the world, and we will never, ever stop fighting,” Eric Trump said, the word “fighting” a dog whistle to the impatient crowd that was just around the corner. a few blocks from where they – falsely – – believed their future was being treated illegally by lawmakers. Shortly after Eric and Lara left the scene, they were whisked away by the Secret Service to the airport – the match they helped light up in the rear view as they returned to their New York home. York multi-million dollar.
The president was also present at the rally, of course. Headlining, he first watched the crowd on screens from a tented VIP area with his daughter Ivanka Trump, who did not speak at the rally, before taking the stage.
Ivanka Trump would soon be the one whose responsibility it was to pressure her father to publicly call for an end to the violence – but not before sending her own tweet, calling Trump supporters “American patriots” .
“American Patriots – any breach of security or disrespect for our law enforcement is unacceptable,” wrote Trump, who also said the violence must end. After being called out for calling them “patriots,” Trump deleted his tweet.
At the White House, panic set in. “The president didn’t want to listen to people telling him he had to get these people to stop doing this,” a White House official told CNN.
“Everyone has been asked to leave the room,” another source close to Ivanka Trump told CNN of her emergency meeting with the president in the Oval Office. Trump had been called by several people, both in person in her West Wing office and on Capitol Hill, where she had multiple contacts. The message was, ‘President Trump must tell these people to stop. He’s the only one they’ll listen to, “said the source, who noted that Ivanka Trump was already more than aware that the rioters were causing irreparable damage.
During their meeting, Ivanka Trump argued that her father had to give an immediate televised address to the nation, the source said. The president was hesitant, with multiple sources telling CNN that he sometimes seemed to enjoy watching the chaos he sparked. Trump declined the request for an immediate televised address, but ultimately compromised with a reproachful milquetoast version of the Rose Garden, which he then tweeted. “We love you,” he said in a recorded video of people who forced lawmakers and staff to hide under chairs, fearing for their lives. “Go home”, as if they had been at a dinner party too long.
“He will do what he wants to do,” said the source close to Ivanka, referring to the president. “But if she wasn’t here yesterday, her tweets would have been very different,” the source added. Ivanka Trump has often been publicly criticized for taking credit for working “behind the scenes” on issues related to the president – and this time is likely to be no exception. But the source told CNN that Wednesday’s actions were not “a signal of virtue on his part.”
On Thursday night, in another pre-recorded video message, the president publicly conceded for the first time that he would not serve a second term, although he did not congratulate Biden. As his presidency was threatened by resignations and possible impeachment, Trump admitted that a transfer of power to a new administration was underway.
Ivanka Trump and her brother Don Jr. then retweeted the video.