Melania Trump, the first lady of the United States, briefly stepped out of her husband’s larger than life shadow on Monday to launch a campaign against cyber-bullying – before putting on a show of unity with Donald Trump.
Just as Hillary Clinton was once scrutinized during her husband Bill’s sex scandal, Melania faced the cameras even as Donald Trump kept changing his story about an alleged extramarital encounter with the pornographic film actor Stormy Daniels.
“As a mother and as first lady, it concerns me that in today’s fast-paced and ever-connected world, children can be less prepared to express or manage their emotions and often times turn to forms of destructive or addictive behaviour such as bullying, drug addiction or even suicide,” Melania told an audience in bright sunshine in the White House Rose Garden, which is normally reserved for events hosted by the president.
“I feel strongly that as adults, we can and should be best at educating our children about the importance of a healthy and balanced life,” she added.
The words were likely to ring hollow with Trump’s many critics. During the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton ran a campaign and ad entitled “Role Models” featuring clips of Trump referring to Mexicans as “rapists” and mocking a disabled reporter. The ad said: “Our children are watching. What example will we set for them?”
But Melania, in her speech on Monday launching the campaign, entitled “Be Best”, continued: “Social media can both positively and negatively affect our children. But too often, it is used in negative ways. When children learn positive online behaviors early on, social media can be used in productive ways. I do believe that children should be both seen and heard, and it is our responsibility as adults to educate and remind them that when they are using their voices – whether verbally or online – they must choose their words wisely and speak with respect and compassion.”
Her husband, however, has become notorious for using Twitter to hurl insults and slap demeaning nicknames on a variety of perceived foes. Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, said on Monday: “I think the idea you’re trying to blame cyberbullying on the president is kind of ridiculous.”
Melania also spoke about the need to help children in communities affected by America’s devastating opiods epidemic. After her remarks, she invited her husband to the lectern, as he smiled broadly. He put a hand on her waist and kissed her on the cheeks three times, then told the gathering: “That was a truly beautiful and heartfelt speech. That’s the way she feels, very strong.”
Trump said America was “blessed” to have her as first lady. He told her: “Your care and compassion for our nation’s children – and I have to say this and I say it all the time – inspires us all.”
The president then signed a proclamation declaring 7 May as “Be Best Day”. The couple then went back into the White House together.
Guests in the Rose Garden were greeted by a jazz band and included the vice-president Mike Pence, the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner.
Slovenian-born Melania, 48, is Trump’s third wife. She was rarely seen in Washington during the first six months of the administration. Her role as first lady to a dramatically divisive president is uniquely challenging.
Anita McBride, the former chief of staff to the ex-first lady Laura Bush, said: “Whenever the president is controversial, it’s sometimes hard to be given credit on your own. You just have to keep plugging away on your own.
The Washington Post reported on Monday that the couple are leading “remarkably separate” daily lives, sleeping in different bedrooms and seldom eating or spending leisure time together. Videos of Melania resisting the president’s attempts to hold her hand have gone viral.
McBride, executive in residence at the department of government at American University in Washington, added: “Only the two of them know what their relationship is like and it’s very hard to lead a personal life in the public eye. It may lead to chatter but it doesn’t seem to be affecting the job she’s doing. God knows, the Clintons had their fair share of troubles on the public stage and they seemed to make it through just fine.”
The Be Best initiatives offer few surprises. Melania had made numerous visits to hospitals and schools and recently turned the blue room at the White House into a mock classroom and invited school pupils to share their aspirations. She pledged to continue with such activities and trips.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010
Biden Expected To Repeal Military Trans Ban Tomorrow
The Biden administration is expected to repeal the ban on transgender Americans from serving in the military, multiple people informed of the decision told CBS News. The announcement is expected as soon as Monday, one senior Defense official and four outside advocates of repealing the ban told CBS News.
The senior Defense official told CBS News the repeal will be through executive order signed by President Joe Biden. The announcement is expected to take place at a ceremony with newly-confirmed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who will order the Pentagon to go back to the policy enacted in 2016 by former Defense Secretary Ash Carter that allowed transgender Americans to serve openly.
The White House did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
The new order will direct the branches of the military to outline an implementation plan.
The ban was announced by former President Trump via a tweet in July 2017. The ban took effect in April 2019 and barred transgender Americans from enlisting in the military.
In 2014, it was estimated there were around 15,500 transgender military members serving, according to a study by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.
Biden frequently repeated on the campaign trail his promise to repeal the ban.
Austin said at his Senate confirmation hearing last week that he planned to repeal the ban.
“I support the president’s plan or plan to overturn the ban,” Austin said on Tuesday when asked by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, “I truly believe, Senator, that as I said in my opening statement, that if you’re fit and you’re qualified to serve and you can maintain the standards, you should be allowed to serve. And, you can expect that I will support that throughout.”
Trump Pardons Steve Bannon In One of His Final Acts As 45th President
(CNN)— President Donald Trump has decided to pardon his former chief strategist Steve Bannon, in a last-minute decision made only hours before he is scheduled to depart the White House for a final time.
Officials cautioned CNN that Trump’s decision was not final until he signed the paperwork. Trump told people that after much deliberation, he had decided to pardon Bannon as one of his final acts in office.
Bannon’s pardon would follow a frantic scramble during the President’s final hours in office as attorneys and top aides debated his inclusion on Trump’s outgoing clemency list. Despite their falling out in recent years, Trump was eager to pardon his former aide after recently reconnecting with him as he helped fan Trump’s conspiracy theories about the election.
It was a far cry from when Trump exiled Bannon from his inner circle after he was quoted in a book trashing the President’s children, claiming that Donald Trump Jr. had been “treasonous” by meeting with a Russian attorney and labeling Ivanka Trump “dumb as a brick.” Those statements from Bannon drove Trump to issue a lengthy statement saying he had “lost his mind.”
“Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency,” Trump said at the time.Things shifted in recent months as Bannon attempted to breach Trump’s inner circle once again by offering advice before the election and pushing his false theories after Trump had lost.
Since Trump’s election defeat, the President has leaned further into his expansive pardon powers — granting pardons to his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, longtime ally Roger Stone and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, among others.
Among Trump’s pardons earlier in his term were those for former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, right-wing commentator Dinesh D’Souza and financier Michael Milken.
California Governor Formally Appoints Alex Padilla To Fill US Senate Seat Vacated By Kamala Harris
(CNN) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom formally submitted the appointment of Alex Padilla to the US Senate today, according to a press release from the governor’s office.
Padilla formally resigned as Secretary of State this morning and Gov. Newsom also submitted his nomination letter for Assembly member Shirley Weber to replace him. The Deputy Secretary of State, James Schwab, will be the Acting Secretary of State.
“It is fitting that on the same day we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — a civil rights icon who fought for justice and representation — we also move forward the appointment of California’s first Latino U.S. Senator Alex Padilla and the nomination of Dr. Shirley Weber who will serve as the first-ever African American Secretary of State. Both will be strong defenders of our democracy during this fragile moment in our nation’s history,” said Gov. Newsom.
“I am humbled and honored by your trust in me to represent California in the United States Senate. I look forward to continuing to serve the great State of California as a United States Senator and to ensuring that the rights and democratic principles we cherish are protected and preserved for all people,” Padilla wrote in a letter to Gov. Newsom.
Some context: Earlier today, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris formally resigned her seat as one of California’s US Senators. She’ll be inaugurated as vice president on Wednesday, Jan. 20. In a farewell addressed posted to Twitter, Harris said, “Of course, I’m not saying goodbye. In many ways, I’m now saying hello as your vice president.”