Melania Irked By Hush-Money Trial and Trump's Birthday 'Celebration'

@crgibs
Melania Trump

Melania Trump at the White House

Friday marked former First Lady Melania Trump's 54th birthday, which was made more awkward by the fact that she spent it without her husband — who was in court defending himself from allegations that he covered up payments to women to keep quiet about extramarital affairs with him.

Stephanie Grisham, who was chief of staff to the former president's wife during her time in the White House's East Wing, said during a Friday interview on CNN that Melania's absence from the trial proceedings is likely not a coincidence.

"I'm sure she's not happy about it," Grisham said. "It's not fun to hear these details."

Grisham told CNN that because the details Pecker revealed on the stand were not previously known to the public, they were also not previously known to Melania Trump. She added that the video Trump posted to social media celebrating his wife's birthday and showing footage of her at the White House was a purely performative gesture that Melania likely saw right through.

"I rolled my eyes when he did that. It was so beyond inappropriate," Grisham said.

"[Melania] and I talked before about how they actually weren't really birthday people, that that wasn't actually a big deal to either of them... and so that was a performance for voters. That was not to her. Same with this video. That is a performance to try and get voters," she continued.

"It didn't surprise me at all. I'm sure she rolled her eyes too, because it was just so typical, selfish Donald Trump," she added.

The first week of former President Donald Trump's first criminal trial featured the testimony of David Pecker, who was the CEO of American Media Inc. — the parent company of the National Enquirer tabloid newspaper — at the time of the 2016 presidential election. Pecker testified on the stand that while Trump had previously been concerned about how his wife would react to negative stories about him in the press, his main concern after he launched his campaign was about how negative coverage would impact his presidential ambitions.

Pecker's main point of contact was Michael Cohen, who was Trump's longtime personal lawyer and fixer. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's central argument in his 34-count felony indictment of the ex-president is that Cohen facilitated payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal — both of whom claimed to have had affairs with Trump — in order to buy their silence so voters wouldn't have the chance to be influenced by their stories. Those payments were then allegedly labeled as legal fees, though Cohen maintains there was no legal retainer involved in those payments. Trump continues to deny Daniels' and McDougal's allegations.

During one exchange, Pecker said on the stand that he had conversations with former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and White House Communications Director Hope Hicks — who is expected to testify during Trump's trial — about possibly extending McDougal's contract to keep her silent.

"Both of them said that they thought it was a good idea," Pecker said on Thursday.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

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