The forecast calls for sunny skies and 80-degree temperatures, but it looks like there’s going to be a cold front passing through Mar-a-Lago this weekend.
On Friday morning, Donald Trump was credibly accused of having an affair with a second woman who claims she was paid to keep quiet in the run-up to the 2016 election (the first of course was Stormy Daniels). Hours later, Trump and his wife, Melania, both left the White House for Air Force One — but not together.
Trump left the White House at 3:04 p.m. to board a helicopter for Andrews Air Force base, gave reporters a thumbs up, and “seemed to yell something that we couldn’t hear over the noise from the helicopter. He ignored questions about Russia and affairs with women,” according to the White House press pool report.
Reporters were asking specifically about a New Yorker report from Friday morning that details an affair between Trump and a Playboy model named Karen McDougal that began in 2006 — the same time Trump was also reportedly courting the porn actress known as Stormy Daniels. Both women have noted in their accounts that Melania had recently given birth to Trump’s youngest son, Barron, now 11.
(Trump denied the allegations, saying through a spokesperson, “This is an old story that is just more fake news...The president says he never had a relationship with McDougal," but photographs posted in 2015 show the pair were together at at least two of the events detailed in her story.)
The New Yorker report also details an encounter between Trump and McDougal at his residence in Trump Tower in New York, where McDougal says Trump specifically pointed out Melania’s separate bedroom, saying “she liked her space to read or be alone.”
Melania certainly appeared to want her space or be alone on Friday afternoon, when she departed the White House in a private car without her husband.
"With her schedule, it was easier to meet him on the plane," Melania’s communications director, Stephanie Grisham, explained in a statement obtained by CNN.
It’s not the first time the first lady has traveled separately from her husband in the wake of a damning news report — she also took a separate car to Trump’s State of the Union address on Jan. 30, in her first public appearance following a Jan. 13 Wall Street Journal report that Trump’s camp had paid Daniels $130,000 a few weeks before the election, to keep quiet. And in the days after the report was published, Melania cancelled a planned trip to Switzerland with her husband and spent the weekend alone at Mar-a-Lago instead.
Grisham cited "scheduling and logistical issues" that prevented Melania from accompanying her husband on the trip.
If true, it would just be one of many strange coincidences suggesting tension between the couple — including Melania’s choice to wear a bright-pink “pussy bow” Gucci blouse to a debate days after the infamous video of Trump talking about grabbing women “by the pussy” was leaked. A spokesperson said at the time Melania’s outfit was “not intentional.”
Though the first lady has been largely absent from public appearances, she has been using her social media accounts. In one post, she celebrated the one-year anniversary of Trump’s inauguration with a photograph of herself standing with a Marine.
“This has been a year filled with many wonderful moments. I’ve enjoyed the people I’ve been lucky enough to meet throughout our great country & the world!,” she wrote, making no reference to her husband.
The couple marked their 13th wedding anniversary last month.