According to Politico, the president was referring to Rep. Steve Scalise, who was wounded in a mass shooting in 2017, when he said: “[Scalise’s spouse] cried her eyes out when I met her at the hospital that fateful day … I mean, not many wives would react that way to tragedy. I know mine wouldn’t.”
President Trump, 73, made the remark while speaking for about an hour at a fundraiser for Take Back the House 2020, the joint fundraising committee of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, according to Politico, which described Trump as “unscripted, unfiltered and totally in his element.”
(A White House spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment on Trump’s statement about the first lady.)
He reportedly discussed various GOP lawmakers at the dinner, at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. — a mingling of business and politics that has raised ethics concerns throughout his presidency.
The fundraiser, attended by some 115 House Republicans, was expected to raise more than $13 million.
North Carolina Rep. Patrick McHenry, Trump said, had “the best name,” according to Politico: “If I had that name, I would have been president 10 years ago.” Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, a Trump critic, had the worst name.
Trump also praised the family of Pennsylvania Rep. John Joyce: his “handsome” son and “looker” wife.
Indiana Rep. Greg Pence, brother of Vice President Mike Pence, got a joking shout-out. “I know a guy who looks like you,” Trump said, per Politico. “How did you get that good of a seat in here ya cheap-o?”
And Trump took a swipe at his former attorney general, Jeff Sessions, who could once again run for an Alabama Senate seat: “Who is gonna win Alabama? Don’t tell me Sessions.”
In March, a witness told PEOPLE they saw the Trumps having a disagreement at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida. “Melania was upset and they had words with each other over something,” the source said. (The White House disputed this.)
Mrs. Trump said in an interview last year that she was not fazed by the affair allegations.
“It is not a concern and focus of mine,” she told ABC News. “I’m a mother and a first lady and I have much more important things to think about and to do. I know people like to speculate and the media like to speculate about our marriage.”
“It’s not always pleasant, of course,” Mrs. Trump said. “But I know what is right and what is wrong and what is true or not true.”
Appearing on MSNBC’s Morning Joe during the 2016 campaign, Mrs. Trump said she and the president “have a great relationship. We are own people. I’m my own person. He’s his own person. And I think that’s very important.”
“I don’t want to change him,” she said then. “He doesn’t want to change me.”