Former first lady Melania Trump told Fox News on Thursday that she “was unaware of” the violence occurring at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, which is why she did not immediately condemn the insurrection.
Trump’s assertion that she was “fulfilling one of [her] duties as First Lady” and as a result unaware of the riot comes after Stephanie Grisham, who served as chief of staff for the former first lady, posted a screenshot of a text conversation she appears to have had discussing the riot with Trump on Jan. 6.
Grisham, who has written a tell-all book lambasting Trump, posted a screenshot last month of a text conversation she said she had with Trump on Jan. 6. In the text change, Grisham said she asked the former first lady if she wanted to tweet that “peaceful protests are the right of every American, but there is no place for lawlessness & violence.”
The person responding to Grisham in the texts, labeled MT, wrote “No.”
Trump told Fox that it was her obligation as it was for previous first ladies to record the contents of the White House’s historic rooms, taking archival photos of renovations. She said she organized a team of photographers, archivists and designers several months in advance and had scheduled Jan. 6 to complete the work.
She said she has always been “very supportive” of Grisham and backed her after her “failed stint” as White House press secretary.
Grisham served as press secretary for Trump for about two years before becoming White House press secretary in 2019 after the departure of Sarah Huckabee Sanders. She returned to work for Trump in 2020 as chief of staff.
Trump said that Grisham was not in the White House on Jan. 6 of that year, and her behavior as chief of staff “amounts to a dereliction of duty.” She said the first lady’s chief of staff traditionally provides “detailed briefings” on the country’s most important issues.
“In fact, Ms. Grisham failed to provide insight and information into the events surrounding January 6 as she had abandoned her post in Washington, D.C.,” she said. “Shamefully, this behavior has only partially become public knowledge; yet was consistent for Ms. Grisham.”
Grisham told CNN’s “New Day” that she was compelled to share the screenshot because she was “disappointed and discouraged and sickened” that Trump would not say “’There should be no violence.’”
“Knowing her as well as I did at that point, it was so unlike her to not have condemned it, that that was the moment it all kind of broke me,” she said.
Trump told Fox, “I always condemn violence.”
“Had I been fully informed of all the details, naturally, I would have immediately denounced the violence that occurred at the Capitol Building,” she said. “And while Ms. Grisham’s behavior is disappointing, it is not surprising or an isolated incident.”