In an unusual public statement acknowledging any disagreement between the first couple, Mrs. Trump’s spokeswoman told CNN reporter Kate Bennett: “It is no secret that the President and First Lady often communicate differently — as most married couples do.”
Bennett had asked about a Thursday tweet from the president, 73, in which he said it was “so ridiculous” that TIME named Thunberg their “Person of the Year.” The Swedish teen has become a global face for the urgency of addressing climate change.
“Greta must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend!” President Trump, a climate change skeptic who has claimed it is a “hoax,” sarcastically wrote Thursday. “Chill Greta, Chill!”
Thunberg responded by changing her Twitter bio: “A teenager working on her anger management problem. Currently chilling and watching a good old fashioned movie with a friend.”
Mrs. Trump, 49, has made fighting cyberbullying a major part of her Be Best initiative as first lady, focusing on children’s welfare. However, she has regularly been accused of hypocrisy given her husband’s penchant for personally attacking others using social media.
A law professor speaking before the committee had said, “The Constitution says there can be no titles of nobility, so while the president can name his son Barron, he can’t make him a baron.” (The professor later apologized.)
“A minor child deserves privacy and should be kept out of politics,” Mrs. Trump tweeted on Dec. 4. Referring to the professor, she wrote, “Pamela Karlan, you should be ashamed of your very angry and obviously biased public pandering, and using a child to do it.”
In the statement to CNN this week about the president’s mockery of another teenager, Mrs. Trump’s spokeswoman said, BeBest “is the First Lady’s initiative, and she will continue to use it to do all she can to help children. … Their son is not an activist who travels the globe giving speeches. He is a 13-year-old who wants and deserves privacy.”
Mrs. Trump has reportedly expressed her misgivings about her husband’s Twitter habits in the past.
She told New York Times reporter Katie Rogers last year, according to Newsweek, “I don’t always agree with his tweets and I tell him that.”
“[The first lady] told me she sometimes takes the president’s phone away,” Rogers tweeted at the time, per Newsweek.
Hours after the president’s dig at Thunberg, his campaign tweeted an edited version of her TIME cover with Trump’s face on it instead.
Meanwhile, former First Lady Michelle Obama had her own thoughts on the matter. She tweeted support to Thunberg on Friday, writing, “Don’t let anyone dim your light. … Ignore the doubters and know that millions of people are cheering you on.”
Thunberg, too, has responded to the argument that her climate activism is political.
“If anyone thinks that what I and the science are saying is advocating for a political view – then that says more about that person than about me,” she wrote in one tweet. “That being said – some are certainly failing more than others.”