#ItsJustAJacket: Melania Trump’s team does fashion damage control on her border trip
Melania Trump’s team on Thursday struggled to recover after the first lady was called out for wearing a jacket that read “I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?” on her way to visit a child detention center in South Texas.
The backlash to the fashion choice — which was similar to the widespread criticism Melania Trump received last year for wearing stilettos on her way to visit hurricane victims — was swift on Twitter.
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And it threatened to severely undercut the compassionate photo-op, which was already competing with her husband’s insistence on Thursday that he’s not backing off his administration’s “zero tolerance” policy toward illegal immigration.
The first lady’s communication director, Stephanie Grisham, said there was nothing to read into the choice of Zara jacket. “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,” she said in a statement.
Grisham later tweeted, “Today’s visit w the children in Texas impacted @FLOTUS greatly. If media would spend their time & energy on her actions & efforts to help kids – rather than speculate & focus on her wardrobe – we could get so much accomplished on behalf of children. #SheCares #ItsJustAJacket.”
Melania Trump did not wear the jacket on her tour in Texas, but she had it back on when she exited the plane back in Washington.
A short while later, President Donald Trump weighed in on Twitter.
“I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?” written on the back of Melania’s jacket, refers to the Fake News Media,” he wrote. “Melania has learned how dishonest they are, and she truly no longer cares!“
“I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?” written on the back of Melania’s jacket, refers to the Fake News Media. Melania has learned how dishonest they are, and she truly no longer cares!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 21, 2018
Melania Trump’s trip to the border came one day after the president bowed to public pressure and halted his administration’s policy of separating families who illegally cross the border.
But the executive order has failed to halt the outcry, as questions remain about how the policy will be implemented and what will happen to the thousands of children already forcibly removed from their parents.
The trip from Melania Trump was an unusually high-profile moment from the normally reserved first lady and comes as her office has tried to emphasize her desire for the migrant children to be treated humanely.
“We all know they’re here without their families, and I want to thank you for your hard work, your compassion and your kindness you’re giving them in these difficult times,” Melania Trump said during remarks to staff members of the Upbring New Hope Children’s Shelter in McAllen, Texas. Fifty-eight children are currently being held at that shelter.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar was also on the trip, which included a tour of Ursula Border Patrol Processing Center, a Customs and Border Patrol and Department of Homeland Security intake center.
The White House said in a statement that the first lady‘s goals are to “thank law enforcement and social services providers for their hard work“ in addition to hearing more on how the administration can build on efforts to reunite children with their families.
A White House official on Wednesday told POLITICO that the first lady had been arguing behind the scenes to end family separation, and specifically had conversations with her husband about it. She first released a statement Sunday saying that she “hates to see children separated from their families” and called for a bipartisan solution.
But the facility Melania Trump visited on Thursday — with extensive cameras present for the tightly held trip — included a brightly colored backdrop that looked more like an elementary school and served as a jarring contrast to the images of children detained in cages and the audio of young children wailing for their parents.
And despite Melania Trump’s soft-touch visit, the president on Thursday emphasized to reporters at a Cabinet meeting that he is not easing up on the hardline immigration stances that have been the hallmark of his campaign events and time in office.
“If we took away zero tolerance, you would have millions of people at the border,” Trump said.