First lady Melania Trump is poised to make her first public appearance in weeks on Tuesday evening, riding by motorcade from the White House to the Capitol, where she will attend her husband's State of the Union address.
All eyes -- and cameras -- will be on the first lady, who last week made an impromptu visit to Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, after cancelling her planned trip with President Donald Trump to Davos, Switzerland. Her communications director Stephanie Grisham cited "scheduling and logistical issues" for the cancellation and has not yet provided a reason for the trip to Florida.
The first lady has had by many accounts a difficult start to 2018, facing myriad news stories about a dalliance her husband allegedly had with porn star Stormy Daniels. The alleged affair supposedly took place in 2006, four months after Melania Trump gave birth to the couple's only son, Barron.
The Wall Street Journal first reported the Daniels story on January 12, just a couple of hours before the first lady flew to Mar-a-Lago with her husband, where she was not seen by the press pool the entire long weekend.
The President has denied the affair took place. But the Wall Street Journal reported Trump's attorney Michael Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 to keep it covered up. Cohen also released a statement on behalf of Daniels calling the report "absolutely false."
Melania Trump was reportedly "blindsided" by the reports of the payoff and "furious" with the President, two people close to the couple told The New York Times.
The first glimpse of the first lady came when she boarded Air Force One to return to Washington from Florida on Monday, January 15, walking up the stairs to the aircraft in blustery wind and rain, behind her husband, who carried an umbrella, but did not offer it to his wife.
And last Monday, the couple marked 13 years of marriage with no public statements. The government shutdown loomed over the anniversary, and requests from CNN to the East Wing and West Wing press offices to inquire whether the couple celebrated in private were not returned.
Melania Trump made an unannounced solo visit to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington before departing for West Palm Beach last Thursday. Prior to Thursday's museum visit, she had only been heard from on her social media channels this month. Her last posting was a message on January 20 to mark the one-year anniversary of the inauguration, with a photograph from the day that cryptically did not include her husband, but rather a uniformed military escort.
At the Capitol on Tuesday, Trump is expected to follow the long tradition of supporting her husband from the first lady's box, where she will be surrounded by 15 guests, including beneficiaries of Trump's tax cuts, those affected by the opioid crisis, and families who have lost loved ones at the hands of the MS-13 gang.
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