Donald and Melania Trump’s remarkably separate daily routines begin with him getting up around 5:30 a.m., watching cable news shows and tweeting. The first lady wakes in her own bedroom a bit later, according to two close friends of the Trumps.
Unlike other modern first ladies who wielded influence behind the scenes, friends say Mrs. Trump has insulated herself from the chaos and leaks of the White House by directing the East Wing to operate independently from the West Wing.
People in Melania Trump’s Upper East Side set haven’t been surprised to see her take a low-key approach to her new role. “She’s sort of like Rapunzel in the tower,” said one New York City socialite who knows Trump from her infrequent appearances on the New York social and charity scene.
Melania Trump is a Rorschach test in Louboutins, inspiring praise from those who see in her inscrutable gaze an elegant, dutiful mother charting a new role for the first lady; compassion from those imagining her as the president’s unhappy captive, her penthouse-turned-prison costing taxpayers ungodly sums to secure; and contempt from those rendering her as her husband’s chief enabler, abiding his sexist and anti-immigrant bluster, and echoing at one time his baseless questioning of President Barack Obama’s citizenship.
But Mrs. Trump remains a Rorschach test for public perceptions of Mr. Trump’s White House: People tend to see in her what they already believe about the president. To conservative supporters of the president, she is a quietly loyal helpmate. To Mr. Trump’s critics, she is an enabler trapped in a gilded cage, occasionally breaking out to express a divergent opinion or make a high-profile gaffe before retreating again into silence.