President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump‘s every move together is the subject of ample speculation — and in a new piece by The New York Times, a source alleges that she appears more comfortable solo.
“In private, a former White House official said, Mr. and Mrs. Trump give the impression that they like one another, but their rapport is not particularly warm,” the Times report, published Friday, states. “One person who has spent a considerable amount of time around her said Mrs. Trump was far more relaxed outside the presence of her husband than when he was around.”
Stephanie Grisham, Mrs. Trump’s communications director, did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s requests for comment about the story, but she told the Times in part that Mrs. Trump, 48, “is staying true to the independent woman that she is by doing things her own way,” adding, “This should be celebrated, not criticized. Her priorities remain her family, her personal health and her role as first lady.”
One of the former model’s most controversial moments to date came when she wore a Zara jacket emblazoned with the words “I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?” on her way to visit separated children at an immigration facility in Texas in June. The Times reports that “a person close to Mrs. Trump said the jacket was actually directed at anyone — both outside and inside the White House — who wanted to criticize her decision to visit the children in light of the administration’s aggressive immigration policies.”
At the time of the uproar, Mr. Trump, 72, tweeted that his wife’s clothing choice was directed at the “Fake News Media,” but Grisham said via a statement, “It’s a jacket. There was no hidden message. After today’s important visit to Texas, I hope the media isn’t going to choose to focus on her wardrobe (Much like her high heels last year).”
Behind closed doors, “Mrs. Trump maintains a separate bedroom from her husband, and when the two travel, they stay in separate hotel suites,” states the new Times report, written by Katie Rogers, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, and Maggie Haberman.
Most of Mrs. Trump’s time in the White House appears to be spent in the residence, where the Times reports she “has worked with the kitchen staff to arrange more-healthful meals for her husband — though he still prefers two scoops of ice cream for dessert.”
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Mr. Trump’s proclivity for high-calorie food made more headlines in May, when a CNN report said the president was quietly making small changes to his diet and acknowledging in private that he needed to lose weight.
The president had a complete physical in January, after which former White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson — who faced shocking allegations of misconduct in April after Mr. Trump nominated him for Veterans Affairs secretary — said Mr. Trump was “currently very healthy,” but “would benefit from a diet that is lower in fat and carbohydrates, and from a routine exercise regimen.” The physician also said Mr. Trump’s cholesterol was slightly elevated, but he was prescribed Crestor to address that, and otherwise “his cardiac health is excellent.”
As for Mrs. trump’s daily routine, she “does regular Pilates workouts and consults with the White House Historical Association on residence renovations and upkeep,” in addition to her work in the East Wing on Be Best — her “awareness campaign” about the challenges America’s children face — according to the Times.
Though Mrs. Trump is described by aides in the story as “warm, engaging and witty,” the Times notes that very little is known about Mrs. Trump’s life, as she surrounds herself with a tight-knit circle including her older sister, Ines Knauss, and parents, Viktor and Amalija Knavs, who became naturalized U.S. citizens in August by using the same chain migration program that Mr. Trump has been pushing to end.
“Her aides regularly deny a widespread belief that Mrs. Trump lives outside the White House with her parents, near Barron’s school in Maryland,” the story states.
According to the Times, a White House official said that her parents stay at a Trump Tower apartment in New York, Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago in Florida, and a White House suite that was once the bedroom of former First Lady Michelle Obama’s mother, Marian Shields Robinson.