Would the USA have been without a first lady

Disclosure book on Melania Trump

Even before the new book by journalist Mary Jordan about the American First Lady hit the book trade in the USA, it made waves in the international, including many German media. The Washington Post, for which Jordan works as an honored investigative journalist with numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, had produced a report that was apparently meaningful for all of the world with an excerpted advance publication: Melania Trump had herself after Donald Trump's inauguration in January Refused in 2017 to follow her husband, the newly elected Republican President, to the White House in Washington.

It was only in June, after she renegotiated her marriage contract with Trump, that Melania was ready to take on the role she was supposed to play at the President's office. Melania, the strategist: She would have cleverly used the time and circumstances to negotiate better terms for herself, but above all for her son. It was her aim to ensure that her then eleven-year-old son Barron would be equated with the children from Trump's first marriage to Ivana with regard to the future.

The White House denial was not long in coming. Stephanie Grisham, spokeswoman for the First Lady, referred the book to the realm of fables. This representation is made up, based on insufficient information and wrong sources.

The Trumps on January 20, 2017, shortly before the President's inauguration

Searching for traces with 120 partners

"The Art of Her Deal" already refers to Donald Trump with the title. It is an allusion to "The Art of the Deal", the allegedly "greatest business bestseller" that Trump published in 1987 with the help of journalist Tony Schwartz.

Mary Jordan's biography about the fairytale-like rise of a girl, who was still born in socialist Yugoslavia, to the wife of first president in the most powerful country in the world is not the first reveal book about the former model. Jordan was able to fall back on the "Inside Story" (2016) by the Slovenian author Bojan Po┼żar about the young Melanija Knavs, as she was then still called, and on the research results of CNN reporter Kate Bennett published in "Free, Melania" at the beginning of December 2019.

For her own book, Mary Jordan has spoken to more than 120 people around the world since 2015, including Donald Trump himself, school friends from Melania's youth in Slovenia, colleagues from the fashion world, photographers and New Jersey's Governor Chris Christie. The reporter documented the time and circumstances of her conversations, journalistic research and her file studies as precisely as possible through comments and an index. That makes your book very believable, even if only a few interviewees can be identified by name.

Melania Knaus in 2000, when she became a sought-after model through Trump's media relations

Identity change: From Melanija Knavs on Melania Knaus and Melania Trump

So what's new besides the marriage contract story? Jordan did not set up Melania's biography as a glamorous revelation book, but as an exact search for clues, which ultimately aims to find out how today's first lady thinks and acts - especially in relation to her husband.

One thing becomes clear on this trail: Melanija Knavs, who was born in Novo Mesto in 1970, knew early on what her goals were. She broke off an architecture degree in order to prove herself as a model in Milan and Paris. Only - it never got beyond the middle class of a catalog model.

Discipline, determination and good agency contact brought Melania Knauss - as she called herself as a model (over time shortened to Knaus) - to the fashion metropolis of New York, where she met one of New York's most sought-after playboys at a Fashion Week party in 1998 : Donald Trump

The beginnings of the relationship with Trump, who at that time was still in the final phase of his second marriage, was followed up by Jordan in thorough research. Extremely revealing is Trump's obscene conversation with one of the most popular radio talk show hosts in the United States, Howard Stern, in November 1999, in which he brought Melania, who he said was sitting naked in the next room, to the call-in show.

She reacted cautiously, evasively - and decisively. In doing so, she relativized Trump's sex-obsessed hints. A pattern that was to be repeated in "Locker Room Talk", the infamous "conversation between men" of her future husband and after his affairs with the porn actress Stormy Daniels and other Playmates: Melania is silent, evasive in amusement, stays in the background - and stands behind her husband in this own position.

Donald Trump and Melania Knauss playing tennis in Flushing Meadows in 2002

Political game about gang

Jordan shows that Melania Trump is anything but the victim that many Trump critics want her to be. "Free Melania" was called for on many signs during demonstrations against Trump, but the first lady does not want to be released. She, the first non-English speaking first wife, is very smart and understands her Donald, said Anthony Scaramucci, who served as Trump's communications chief for a short time. "She is very smart and understands him". She is the first and often the only one to whose reaction Trump gives something.

As Jordan traces, the family life of the Trumps runs in very separate ways, Melanias with her naturalized parents and her son, who has both US citizenship and Slovenian citizenship. Superficially, the first lady often takes a position that differs from that of the president, especially on social media: She complains that refugee children have been separated from their parents, wears face masks in Corona times, while Donald rages against masks. But in the political arena of Washington and the media, Mary Jordan portrays this very enlighteningly, both play about gang. In this way, Trump can bring new, opposing attitudes into play via Melania without standing there as a loser.

Demonstrative unity: The President and the First Lady at the end of May 2020

"I can take everything"

"Don't feel sorry for me. I can handle everything," replied Melania Trump to CNN talk show host Anderson Cooper in October 2016 in her first interview after the infamous "Access Hollywood" video became known. Trump boasts that you can have all women if you just grab them tight enough at their most delicate places.

The past three and a half years have shown that First Lady Melania Trump can indeed handle anything. The former model has arrived at the White House as the first lady - and wants to stay for another four years.