Long before Melania Trump became the first lady of the United States, she was a working model. She started her career when she was 16 years old and living in Slovenia before she uprooted to Milan at age 18. Then, in 1996, her profession brought her to the U.S., where she lived and worked as a model in New York.
In fact, it was Melania’s career that essentially landed her at a party during Fashion Week in September 1998, where she met her husband, President Donald Trump.
Melania Trump never reached supermodel status. Her former roommate and photographer Matthew Atanian told Vanity Fair in 2016 the future first lady was only getting “second-and-third-tier modeling work” when she arrived in the states. Regardless, Melania Trump has experience as a working model, so how come she hasn’t been featured on the cover of any fashion magazines since her husband came into office?
It’s a question actor James Woods raised on Twitter on Saturday, which has since sparked a huge debate. “If the Trumps were Democrats, Melania would be on every cover of every chic women’s magazine in the world every month,” he wrote, along with an old photo of Melania Trump sitting in a blue strapless dress.
A wave of people seemed to agree with Woods’ sentiments, noting that U.S. magazines have apparently become politically biased, favoring the left over the right, while others compared Melania Trump’s lack of magazine covers to the several features former first lady Michelle Obama received while her husband, former President Barack Obama, was in office from 2009 to 2017.
During Barack Obama’s eight-year tenure, Michelle Obama graced a total of 12 magazine covers. In addition to appearing on the cover of famous fashion mag Vogue three times, she’s also advocated national interest issues in two Essence magazine features, twice for Time magazine and Glamour magazine, and once for Redbook, Instyle and Radar.
It’s a flagrant a snub Vogue hasn’t had Melania grace a cover by now. Fashion is not a conservative or liberal market. Photographers & designers love her.
Vogue can see Melania is popular throughout the world. Missing out on a record selling magazine is foolish.
— Jessie Jane Duff (@JessieJaneDuff) April 9, 2018
Melania doesnât care that she isnât on magazine covers. Thatâs her real beauty. Michelle, on the other hand…..
— Ericaððºð¸â¤ï¸ðââï¸ð¦ð¸ (@ericamerovich) April 9, 2018
- This Is Why Melania Trump Hasn’t Been On Any Magazine Covers Since Becoming First Lady
- A model past
- Major backlash
- Using Trump to their advantage
- A no-win situation
- A first lady without an initiative
- Keeping her distance
- Staying mum
- Vogue Doesn’t Have to Put Melania on Its Cover
- You Ain’t Michelle! Fashion Magazines Reportedly Shunning Melania Trump
- The Heir
- Melania Trump – the First Lady in our nude photo shoot
- Like this? Now read:
- Ivanka Trump: See Her Life in Pictures
- Donald and Ivanka Trump Moments That Totally Weird Us Out
- 1. Calling his daughter ‘hot’
- 2. He’d date her if she wasn’t his daughter
- 3. Agreeing that Ivanka is ‘a piece of ass’
- 4. Discussing Ivanka’s ‘voluptuous’ body
- 5. This Vanity Fair photoshoot
- 6. ‘Sex’ is Trump’s favorite thing they have in common
- 7. Ivanka referring to him as ‘daddy’
- 8. Objectifying Ivanka
- 9. If he wasn’t married and her father …
- 10. Things get weird on The Dr. Oz Show
- 11. A highly disturbing comment
- 12. He compared Stormy Daniels to Ivanka
- 13. He talked about her on the set of The Apprentice
- 14. Awkward body language
- 15. His second daughter doesn’t get the same attention
This Is Why Melania Trump Hasn’t Been On Any Magazine Covers Since Becoming First Lady
Melania Trump is a very different kind of first lady than the American public is used to seeing. The Slovenian native has been married to President Donald Trump since 2005 and has been in the spotlight for nearly two decades. However, she hasn’t really stepped up the plate in her White House role.
Though Mrs. Trump has a pretty solid approval rating, and she’s been praised for her fashion sense, she hasn’t done many interviews or donned magazine covers like her predecessors.
This is the real reason why Melania Trump hasn’t been on any magazine covers since becoming the first lady.
A model past
Melania Trump was once a stylish and care-free model. | Diane Freed/Getty Images
Before marrying President Trump, the first lady was a fashion model who graced the cover of several magazines. In fact, she was on the cover of Vogue in 2005 in her wedding dress. However, because the fashion industry is typically more left-leaning, many designers have shunned Mrs. Trump.
Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs, Christian Siriano, and Sophie Theallet have all refused to dress the first lady.
Next: Starting off on the wrong foot
All eyes were on her. | Vanity Fair Mexico via Twitter
Six days after her husband’s inauguration, Mrs. Trump graced the cover of Vanity Fair Mexico. It has been her only magazine cover since, and it didn’t exactly draw rave reviews.
Many folks were immediately outraged, considering her husband’s horrendous comments about Mexicans and his racist border wall pledge.
Next: Anti-Trump is good for business
Using Trump to their advantage
Melania Trump won’t be seen on the news stand anytime soon. | Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
It’s no secret that the president isn’t a big fan of the media, except for Fox News. In fact, unless they are painting the former reality TV show host in a favorable light, Trump loves to label media outlets as fake news. However, that’s only helped magazines.
It looks like the more Trump criticizes a magazine, the more readership it gets. Many editors are therefore shunning all Trumps from their pages since its good for business.
Next: Between a rock and a hard place
A no-win situation
Magazines won’t sell copies if either of these two are on the cover. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images
The election of Trump has sent the country into a tailspin. We are more divided today then we have been in a very long time. While it might garner attention and readership from conservatives to place Melania Trump on the cover of a magazine, it’s also a moral issue for many editors.
No major magazine wants to promote Trump’s sexism, racism, and overall nonsense. Samir Husni, the director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi, told NBC, “Some magazine editors may be putting politics ahead of money and vice versa.”
Next: Standing for nothing
A first lady without an initiative
Her modeling career came to a screeching halt. | Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images
Former first lady Michelle Obama graced the covers of 12 magazines, including Vogue three times, during President Barack Obama’s two terms in the White House. During her tenure as the first lady, she promoted her Let’s Move initiative, healthy eating, and education for women and girls among others.
Though Melania Trump has expressed her desire to counter cyberbullying, she really hasn’t made any strides towards it. Therefore, we’re not really sure what she would even discuss in an interview for a magazine.
Next: Fading into the background
Keeping her distance
Melania Trump doesn’t seem like a proud First Lady. | Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
Though both the president and the first lady claim that Mrs. Trump is thrilled with her role, her body language seems to suggest otherwise. Not only did the first lady not move to the White House until six months after her husband’s inauguration, but she’s also distanced herself from her husband politically and from the public.
She’s checked into hotels amidst the Stormy Daniels’ drama, taken separate motorcades, and canceled various appearances. She overall seems to be most comfortable disappearing into the background and a high-profile magazine cover wouldn’t allow her to do that.
Next: Trying to grin and bear it
Melania Trump just isn’t relatable to magazine readerships consisting of wives and mothers. | Alex Wong/Getty Images
Not only would magazines have very little to say about Melania Trump, she would also not be very forthcoming. Some magazine editors argue that an interview with her would be pointless since it is difficult to get information from her.
Additionally, she only seems to be speaking through her Director of Communications, Stephanie Grisham, who recently demanded that the first lady’s son Barron not be discussed in the media.
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Vogue Doesn’t Have to Put Melania on Its Cover
Michelle Obama made the cover of Vogue magazine three times. Hillary Clinton not only graced the cover in her first lady days but also, as the candidate running against Donald Trump in 2016, received the magazine’s first and (so far) only political endorsement.
Conspicuously missing is the current first lady, Melania Trump. She would seem a natural in that she’s a former model and a beauty. Her magnificent posture is an inspiration to us all.
CNN’s Christiane Amanpour recently confronted Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour with the indisputable fact that far more Democratic women appear on her prized cover than their Republican sisters. Wintour neither denied nor apologized for that imbalance or the omission of Trump.
Wintour said choices for the cover tend to be women who are “icons and inspiring to women from a global perspective.” Like most of the fashion business, she regards Trump world with disgust, adding, “I don’t think it’s a moment not to take a stand.”
Is Vogue magazine being unfair in keeping Trump’s third bride off its cover? “Is it fair?” is not the right question. Vogue is a privately owned publication and can include or exclude anyone it chooses from its cover or inside pages.
(For the record, Barbara and Laura Bush both had profiles inside. I happen to think that Barbara Bush would have made for a glorious cover.)
There is also the business calculation. Knowing Vogue’s readership, one doesn’t imagine that an issue honoring someone so closely associated with Donald Trump on the cover would fly off the shelves. It would probably set off a blizzard of subscription cancellations.
I generally don’t have strong feelings for or against first ladies, but a magazine with a Trump on the cover for any reason other than affairs of state would be avoided. Lifestyle magazines, such as Vogue, are for relaxation and escape. Reminders that Trump is president are jarring, even after two years of him.
In olden days, Vogue’s cover was graced by a diverse group of northern Europeans — beauties with roots in countries ranging from England to Norway. Guess who had the most covers. Lauren Hutton with 26.
The magazine has moved in recent years to feature a more ethnically and racially diverse cover. That is a good thing. Another positive move was joining the healthy body initiative, which meant moving away from very young, horribly thin models.
But in its efforts to retain younger readers straying to Elle magazine, Vogue devalued its brand by putting the likes of Kim Kardashian, a professional vulgarian, on the cover. (I wouldn’t touch that issue, either.) Wintour’s stand that those chosen are “inspiring to women” sort of falls flat in the case of Kardashian, with her sexual exhibitionism, video tape included.
Melania Trump’s representative told Fox News that the first lady has “more important” things to do than fret about her absence from Vogue covers. Stephanie Grisham, recently chosen to replace Sarah Sanders as White House spokeswoman, went on to say, “This just further demonstrates how biased the fashion magazine industry is, and shows how insecure and small-minded Anna Wintour is.”
Of course, fashion publishing has the right to be as biased as it wants to be. And so does every other private-sector industry. Whether being so is bad for business is for the owners to decide.
Meanwhile, this blip of “bad” publicity from the White House is undeniably good publicity for Vogue.
So Wintour owes no one an explanation for keeping Trump off its covers. And if she wants to say she felt “honored” by Obama’s repeat presence or subtitle Clinton’s cover shot “The Extraordinary Hillary Clinton,” she can.
End of story.
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You Ain’t Michelle! Fashion Magazines Reportedly Shunning Melania Trump
Melania Trump‘s claim to fame is being a fashion model and marrying an NBC reality star. Due to her fashion background, you would think magazines would be clamoring to have her on their covers. D-list actor James Woods complained about this on Twitter, see below:
If the Trumps were Democrats, Melania would be on every cover of every chic women’s magazine in the world every month. pic.twitter.com/yLDSkfKufT
— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) April 7, 2018
Melania has only been on one magazine cover since she has been First Lady, which was Vanity Fair in Mexico in February 2017. See below:
#news Melania Trump on the cover of Vanity Fair Mexico: “My husband sustains me, if I do the massage is not opposed” https://t.co/cmubHtS1nc pic.twitter.com/jPeAszm3bu
— BitFeed 🚀 (@BitFeedCO) February 25, 2018
Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs, Christian Sirano and Sophie Theallet have all refused to dress Melania.
Why hasn’t she been on more magazine covers and why won’t designers dress her? Well, let’s start with the fact that she doesn’t appear to want to be First Lady. She didn’t move into the White House until June — six months after her husband was elected. As the Washington Post reported, she is seen but rarely heard. In addition, if she sat down with a magazine for an interview she would have to actual answer questions like: How is your platform anti-bullying but you are married to the biggest bully in the country? Did you really ask for an exorcism when you moved into the White House? What about Stormy Daniels? Hillary Clinton had to deal with a barrage of questions while First Lady and she didn’t hide behind stilettos and sunglasses.
That said, Melania just ain’t Michelle. Let’s take a look back on her epic magazine covers.
I based my graduation photos off of @MichelleObama ‘s Variety Magazine Cover! C/o 2017.👩🏾🎓💕 📸:@dontemaurice pic.twitter.com/hvWQhgue9c
— inari briana . 稲荷 (@inaribriana) May 4, 2017
@MichelleObama @BarackObama hey Michelle we celebrate you here in kenya to the point that you are on the cover of a regionally distributed magazine. We love you. Thank you for being a role model!!happy holidays pic.twitter.com/EkbCa3IAuU
— kimberly Kimani (@kimberlyKimani1) December 15, 2017
@MichelleObama @BarackObama hey Michelle we celebrate you here in kenya to the point that you are on the cover of a regionally distributed magazine. We love you. Thank you for being a role model!!happy holidays pic.twitter.com/EkbCa3IAuU
— kimberly Kimani (@kimberlyKimani1) December 15, 2017
Isn’t @MichelleObama’s hair in this magazine cover “cultural misappropriation” of the white race’s hair style? Oh my!#CulturalAppropriation pic.twitter.com/AP5vrdomBp
— SINOradio (@SINOradio) May 17, 2017
Barack and Michelle Obama cover the special collector’s issue of Essence magazine |… https://t.co/vZ8Ee0UmK4 pic.twitter.com/4H6c7lgTiv
— FeeliB (@feelib) February 21, 2017
— SVA News (@SVA_News) December 19, 2016
Isn’t she lovely?
Above anything, in the diverse world of fashion, Trump’s racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and everything else he hates does not mesh well with fashonistas. This is the man she stands by and let’s never forget she defended his racist birther movement. In 2011, she babbled to Joy Behar, “Do you want to see President Obama‘s birth certificate or not? It’s not a birth certificate.” She added, “It’s not only Donald who wants to see . It’s American people who voted for him and who didn’t vote for him. They want to see that.” See below:
That said, a magazine should put her on the cover if they used the image below.
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When the president withdrew from the Paris Agreement in June 2017, the illusion of Ivanka the Trump whisperer collapsed. “Look, It’s Time to Collectively and Officially Give Up on Ivanka Trump,” Vogue declared. “Ivanka Trump is never going to come through,” a New York Times op-ed announced. Vanity Fair published a savage story about her and Jared’s early adventures in elite Washington, where they were widely regarded as dilettantes. “What is off-putting about them,” one politico told the magazine, “is they do not grasp their essential irrelevance. They think they are special.”
Ivanka seemed consumed by her coverage. Omarosa Manigault Newman, who worked in the White House for the first year of the administration, recalled Ivanka derailing a senior staff meeting to complain about a Saturday Night Live sketch that portrayed her as the face of a perfume named “Complicit.” “Ivanka was thin-skinned,” Newman wrote in her memoir, “and could not seem to take a joke.”
Ivanka’s favorite-child status had long been tied to the good press she generated for her dad. “For Trump, everything comes back to optics,” Cliff Sims, a former White House aide, told me. “She is the archetype of what he wants—the most beautiful face, the most buttoned-up message, everything just exactly the way it should be.” But as Ivanka became a less attractive surrogate, Trump’s patience with her and her husband waned. A news story about Jared using a private email server to conduct government business prompted a presidential meltdown in the Oval Office. “How could he be so stupid?” Trump fumed, according to a White House official who was present. “That’s what Hillary did!”
Trump reportedly began telling allies, “Jared hasn’t been so good for me,” and lamenting—in jest, perhaps, though no one could say for sure—that Ivanka could have married Tom Brady instead. More than once, the president wished aloud that the couple would move back to New York.
Ivanka reacted to her sudden loss of influence by affecting an airy, just-a-daughter pose. “I try to stay out of politics,” she said in an interview with Fox News—a puzzling claim for a White House official. To those who knew her, it was clear she was disoriented. For the first time since she was a girl, her privileged place in the family seemed uncertain.
So when, in July of 2017, Don’s ill-conceived Trump Tower meeting with the Russians became public—putting Jared in jeopardy—the couple did what they had to do. Jared released an 11-page statement effectively blaming the radioactive meeting on his brother-in-law while absolving himself. In a gratuitous bit of knife-twisting, he recounted emailing an assistant, “Can u pls call me on my cell? Need excuse to get out of meeting.”
The statement infuriated Don, according to family friends—not just for the way it threw him under the bus, but for the way it belittled him. But Jared’s maneuver worked on the audience that mattered most.
Watching cable-news coverage of the fiasco from the West Wing, Trump shook his head wearily. “He wasn’t angry at Don,” a former White House official recalled. “It was more like he was resigned to his son’s idiocy.”
“He’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer,” Trump said with a sigh.
Saturday Night Live has a running bit in which Trump’s two eldest sons appear in tandem, with Don portrayed as the smart, responsible big brother and Eric as a kind of bumbling man-child. In an episode last year, Don answered questions about the Russia investigation while Eric ate Play-Doh. Real-life Don seems to delight in these sketches, and has even publicly volunteered to come on the show to play himself. But within the Trump family, associates say, the brothers’ roles are exactly reversed.
Sequestered in Trump Tower, Don spent the first year of his father’s presidency as a kind of armchair pundit, watching the news on TV and firing off tweets. He showed little interest in running the Trump Organization with Eric and longed instead for the political arena. But he rarely called his dad at the White House—“I feel ridiculous bothering him,” he told a reporter—and his dad called him even less. In fact, no one in the first family took Don’s political ideas seriously, least of all Jared and Ivanka. “You never heard them say, ‘We’ve got to get Don Jr.’s opinion on this,’ ” a former White House official told me.
In private, Don complained that the West Wing had been overrun by Democrats, and griped that even the true believers were too passive. Having immersed himself in the online meme wars, Don seemed to believe the White House’s woes could be solved with the kind of aggressive lib-owning that came so naturally to him. Instead, his father had put his faith in a timid preppy. When photos were released of Jared in Iraq in the spring of 2017, sporting a flak jacket over his oxford shirt and blazer, Don spent the afternoon trading gleeful text messages with friends about the Martha’s Vineyard–meets–Mosul getup.
But beneath all Don’s carping was a more personal grievance: While Jared and Ivanka moved freely through the West Wing, he was stuck on the outside, his face pressed up against the glass.
Everybody who works for Trump learns sooner or later that imitating him will only draw his contempt. The tragedy of Don Jr. is that he seems never to have learned this lesson. As his mother has recalled, Trump resisted when she wanted to name their first son after him: “You can’t do that!” he protested. “What if he’s a loser?” That Don went on to confirm his father’s fear largely by trying to mimic him—in temperament, style, speech, and career—points to the unique difficulties of being the president’s namesake.
In March 2018, Page Six reported that Don’s wife, Vanessa, was filing for divorce after 12 years of marriage. The echoes from his childhood were hard to ignore. The couple had five kids—including a daughter who was about the same age he’d been when his parents split up—and the tabloids were circling.
Hoping to spare their children from the media circus Don had experienced, he and Vanessa committed to keep their no-contest proceedings quiet. He told his publicist he didn’t care what reporters wrote about him, but requested that they respect his kids’ privacy and keep in mind that some of them were old enough to read.
Trump had been ambivalent about Don’s wife. (Some traced his doubts back to her teenage romance with a member of the Latin Kings gang; others pointed to an oft-retold story about Vanessa meeting Don’s dad at a fashion show and later joking that he was “retarded.”) But the president was even less enthusiastic when his son started dating Kimberly Guilfoyle.
The Fox News host had lobbied to become White House press secretary early in the administration, but Trump had shown little interest, according to two former aides. “Even he can tell the difference between the attractive women on Fox who have a little bit of substance, and those who will be derided as airheads,” one aide said. Now she was gallivanting across the gossip pages with his son, and posing for photos on the South Lawn.
The family was friendly to Guilfoyle in person, but there were signs of disapproval. One source told me that after her attendance at a White House Fourth of July party sparked a round of fawning press coverage—upstaging Jared and Ivanka—Don was contacted by an official informing him that he would need to clear his guests the next time he visited. And as Thanksgiving approached, the president made it known that Guilfoyle wasn’t welcome to join the family at Mar-a-Lago, two Trump associates told me. (Spokespeople for the White House and Don denied this.)
Some suspected that the president was simply fed up with the distraction the relationship posed. But according to one longtime Trump adviser, there may have been another reason for his displeasure. Over the years, Trump had frequently made suggestive comments about Guilfoyle’s attractiveness, the adviser told me, and more than once inquired about whom she was dating.
But while Trump may have been less than thrilled about the relationship, among rank-and-file right-wingers “Donberly”—as the couple nicknamed themselves—was a hit. Appearing side by side at Republican rallies, they bantered about each other’s pet names—she was “Pooh Bear,” he was “Junior Mint”—and railed against Democrats. They went on hunting trips and posted selfies with rifles on social media. Fans on Twitter began referring to Guilfoyle as the “future first lady,” and she made little effort to tamp down the speculation.
When an interviewer on Breitbart News’s radio show made a comment about Don’s political potential, Guilfoyle didn’t hesitate: “I think he’s the No. 1 up-and-coming political figure, for sure, on the right.”
As the 2018 midterm elections approached, Don decided to get serious about politics. He hired the Republican strategist Andrew Surabian to help shape his press coverage, and began fielding requests to join candidates on the campaign trail.
Crisscrossing the country with Guilfoyle in the year that followed, Don emerged as a veritable right-wing phenom. At the University of Georgia, more than 2,000 young Republicans lined up to hear him speak. At the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland, he was swarmed by fans clamoring for selfies and autographs. Charlie Kirk, the founder of the student organization Turning Point USA, recalled a summit in West Palm Beach that featured conservative A-listers such as Tucker Carlson, Greg Gutfeld, and Jordan Peterson. Don drew a bigger crowd than any of them.
To the surprise of many in elite GOP circles, he also excelled at schmoozing wealthy donors, raising millions of dollars for conservatives in closed-door fundraisers. “He’s as good in a room of six people as he is in a room of 6,000,” says Tommy Hicks Jr., a co-chair of the Republican National Committee and a friend of Don’s.
But the stump was where Don really shined. Taking the stage to wild applause from riled-up MAGA-heads, he riffed and ranted and cracked jokes about gender identity. To watch Don in these settings was to see a man morphing into his father—the vocal inflection, the puckered half-smirk, the staccato “Who knows?” punctuating key sentences. It was as though he had studied his dad’s delivery, practicing each tic in the mirror.
By November 2018, Don had appeared at more than 70 campaign events across 17 states—and powerful Republicans were abuzz. “I could very easily see him entering politics,” Senator Kevin Cramer told me. “I think his future is bright,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Newsmax’s CEO, Chris Ruddy, told me he’d personally encouraged Don to run for office; Sean Hannity called him “a born natural leader.” Senator Rand Paul went so far as to say that Don was one of the best Republican campaigners in the country. “If you can’t get the president,” Paul told me, “he’s a close second.”
Notably, many of these Republicans seemed less enthusiastic about his sister. Cramer, for example, spent 15 minutes in a phone interview gushing to me about Don’s “accessibility” and “irreverence” and gift for “connecting” with voters. But when I asked him about Ivanka, he paused. “She’s a little bit harder to get,” he replied, politely. “Her faith prevents her from traveling on the Sabbath.” Charlie Kirk was similarly careful when we spoke. While all of Trump’s adult children were helpful to the cause, he told me, “I can honestly say that outside of his father, Don is the No. 1 most requested speaker, and he brings the most energy to the conservative base.”
None of this newfound excitement about Don seemed to rub off on the president, however. People close to Trump told me he remained enchanted by the idea of Ivanka as the inheritor of his political legacy. During trips to Mar-a-Lago, he was often heard rhapsodizing about her potential to be the first female president. Don’s political prospects, if they came up at all, were treated as an afterthought. If there was any doubt about which child Trump favored, his Twitter feed told the story: In the first two years of his presidency, he tweeted about Ivanka 16 times, while Don received just four mentions—all of them about the Trump Tower scandal.
Read: Inside Ivanka’s dreamworld
Trump floated Ivanka for various prestigious jobs, including United Nations ambassador and head of the World Bank. When Washington snickered, she settled for a more amorphous role that let her travel the world to speak on pet issues. She appeared onstage with Angela Merkel in Berlin, and addressed a conference on women’s empowerment in Tokyo. On a trip to Africa, she wore flowy dresses as she laughed and danced (and posed for photos) with Ethiopian women. She even began to claw her way out of Upper East Side exile, thanks to her high-profile advocacy for the Republican tax bill—which slashed rates for the rich, and the corporations they owned. “As people got richer, started getting welcomed back in by their old friends,” says Emily Jane Fox, a Vanity Fair reporter who wrote a book about the Trumps.
But as Don’s visibility grew, the cold war between him and Ivanka intensified. Now that each had their own teams of allies and advisers, they had grown paranoid that the other’s henchmen were planting damaging stories about them in the press. A few days before the midterms, McClatchy published a story under the headline “Trump Kids on the Campaign Trail: Don Jr. Wows, Ivanka Disappoints.” Ivanka’s camp was enraged, and suspected that Don was behind the story. Later, Don confronted Ivanka over rumors that her team was undermining him in off-the-record conversations with reporters. “Tell your people to stop trashing me to the media,” he said, according to someone familiar with the conversation. (Spokespeople for Don and Ivanka disputed this account and denied that there is a rift between them.)
Trump and Don Jr. with Fred Trump (standing) in the Plaza Hotel in 1988 (Time Life Pictures / DMI / Life Picture Collection / Getty)
While his siblings jockeyed for political position, Eric spent most of his days at Trump Tower. Don was still technically on the company’s payroll, but between hunting trips and campaign stops, his presence in the office was irregular at best.
Running the Trump Organization during the Trump presidency had turned out to be more difficult than Eric had imagined. After an initial burst of postelection activity, many of the family’s most ambitious plans collapsed. They were forced to scrap their American Idea hotel chain after ethics concerns were raised. International building projects were delayed amid outcry from watchdog groups. Valuable retail space in Trump Tower sat empty month after month, and socially conscious condo owners called for the Trump name to be scraped off their buildings.
Meanwhile, at Mar-a-Lago, patrons whispered that “the boys” were draining the club of its class with cost-cutting measures after numerous charities canceled functions there. When a rumor went forth that Eric had ordered lower-quality steaks to be served at the restaurant, members erupted in outrage: His father never would have allowed this.
Eric blamed the Trump Organization’s setbacks on partisan politics. “We live in a climate where everything will be used against us,” he told The Washington Post. But within the president’s orbit, there was a growing sense that his sons were driving the company into the ground.
Trump, who’d pledged to recuse himself from business decisions, relied on golf buddies to update him on the company during his weekend trips to Florida. Their reviews seemed to confirm his worst fears. Before launching his campaign, he’d fretted that his kids weren’t ready to take over the business. Now, with Don MIA and Eric flailing, he became preoccupied with what would be left of his company when he returned to it. According to a former White House aide, Trump talked about the issue so often that administration officials worried he would get himself in trouble trying to run the Trump Organization from the Oval Office.
But as the 2020 campaign season entered its early stages, even Eric turned his attention toward politics. His wife, Lara—a conservative activist from North Carolina—was an outspoken surrogate for Trump. Eric had been holding back, worried that his father would disapprove; after all, someone needed to mind the shop. But the president encouraged Eric to join his siblings in the fray. There would be plenty of ways to cash in later. This was the family business now.
Watching Trump’s children appear on Fox News, one gets the sense that they’re still auditioning for their father’s affection. Ivanka speaks in dulcet tones about how proud, so proud, she is of her dad. Don bashes the “fake-news media” with performative force. Eric, the least camera-ready of the three, clings to talking points, lavishing praise on Trump whenever he gets stuck. (In an interview earlier this year, Eric repeated variations of “He’s the greatest guy in the world” in such reverential tones that even Sean Hannity seemed uncomfortable with the obsequiousness.)
Trump watches these segments from the West Wing and offers a running commentary to whoever is around, according to a former aide. His attitude toward each of his adult children on any given day is shaped by how they are playing on cable news. Ivanka tends to draw rave reviews, while Don’s are more mixed, with the president muttering things like “Why did he say that?” and “He doesn’t know what he’s doing.” Recently, though, his perspective on his two oldest children seems to have shifted.
In June, Ivanka accompanied her father to Osaka, Japan, for the G20 summit. After the meetings, the French government posted a video clip that showed the president’s daughter standing amid a gaggle of side-eyeing world leaders as she tried awkwardly to force her way into the conversation. The clip went viral, spawning a hashtag—#UnwantedIvanka—and a wave of parody Photoshops inserting her into great moments in history: mugging for the camera at the March on Washington, grinning next to Winston Churchill at Yalta. News outlets around the world covered the snub. Pundits called it a damning indictment of Trump’s nepotism, while foreign-policy experts argued that Ivanka’s lack of credibility could harm U.S. diplomacy. A quote from an anonymous Indian diplomat recirculated in the media: “We regard Ivanka Trump the way we do half-wit Saudi princes.”
The episode laid bare the depth of Ivanka’s miscalculation. She had thought when her father took office that the surest path to power and status was to plant herself in the West Wing and mingle with the global elite. But after two and a half years of trying to burnish her credentials as a geopolitical player, Ivanka had become an international punch line. There was, it turned out, no market for a genteel brand of Trumpism.
Don, meanwhile, threw himself into his father’s reelection campaign, while quietly plotting his own future. According to Republicans familiar with the discussions, he considered running for office somewhere in the Mountain West, where his love of guns and hunting could help woo voters. A privately commissioned poll in Montana—passed around enthusiastically among Don’s inner circle—showed that 75 percent of the state’s Republicans viewed him favorably. In April, it was announced that Guilfoyle would join the Trump campaign as a senior adviser.
While Don mulled his options, some allies talked him up as a potential chairman of the Republican National Committee. Others suggested he launch a right-wing political outfit that would allow him to hold rallies and bestow endorsements. The word kingmaker started getting tossed around.
Even the president began to appreciate his son’s political value. During a family gathering at the White House, Trump was overheard questioning Don about whether he’d been using the company plane while shirking his day job. A Republican senator in the room intervened to say that without Don’s work on the campaign trail, the party might not have kept its Senate majority. Trump seemed pleased: “I believe it.”
On a steamy June evening, Trump officially launched his bid for reelection with a raucous rally in Orlando. This time, Ivanka and Jared sat in the audience, while Don—the president’s most skilled warm-up act—strutted across the stage to fervid applause. Bellowing into the microphone until his voice went ragged, he crowed about “crushing the bastards of ISIS” and made fun of Joe Biden for “groping” women. As he neared the end of his speech, Don lifted his arms in the air as if conducting an orchestra, and the arena erupted in chants of “Four more years!”
In that moment, there was little question what the future of the Trump family would look like. After a century and a half of striving, they had money, and fame, and unparalleled power. But respectability would remain as distant a mirage as it was when Friedrich was chasing it across the Yukon. While no one knew when Donald Trump would exit the White House, it was clear what he would leave behind when he did: an angry, paranoid scrap of the country eager to buy what he was hawking—and an heir who knew how to keep the con alive.
This article appears in the October 2019 print edition with the headline “Succession.”
Melania Trump – the First Lady in our nude photo shoot
We were bombarded by requests to shoot Melania,” GQ editor Dylan Jones said when asked about our January 2000 nude shoot with Melania Trump, after we had dug through the archives and published the images online in March 2016. “Given that she was obviously so keen to be featured in GQ, we came up with a rather kitsch and camp story for her to feature in.” Donald Trump also requested that photographs be delivered to his office. “We framed the cover and a selection of prints and sent them as soon as we could.”
It appears the First Lady is rather proud of the images: the new White House website lists the cover shoot as one of her greatest achievements. Recently it has become a source of controversy as questions are raised over how Melania secured her US visa.
Now you know the back story, scroll down to see the article and images that were originally published in the January 2000 issue of British GQ.
Want jet-set chic? Then sex, style and 18-carat gold seat belts are essential. Supermodel Melania is the launch pad for 14 pages of high living.
© Antoine Verglas
There was a time when the Mile High Club was a stand-up organisation. The price of entry was a stolen moment in the cramped and hardly seductive surroundings of a 747 loo, and the penalties for being caught were harsh. Which is a shame when you consider the undeniable frission travelling at 30,000 feet adds to any assignation. Now airlines have wised-up, with Virgin Atlantic offering double beds to its Upper Class passengers. But if you’re going to get that all-important upgrade, then you’re going to have to join the jet set. And there are rules.
© Antoine Verglas
Enter high-spirited Donald Trump to show us how it’s done. The billionaire New York property magnate, Reform Party presidential candidate and proud owner of this custom-fitted 727 (even the seat buckles are 18-carat gold) is an expert in the art of in-flight entertainment. And his personal hostess, 26-year-old Slovenian supermodel Melania Knauss, might just end up as the next First Lady. Flight of fancy? Not if The Donald has his way.
© Antoine Verglas
Heavyweight political commentators may scoff, but the delectable Miss Knauss is relishing the prospect of a future pressing the flesh on state occasions. “I will put all my effort into it, and I will support my man,” she said recently.
Subscribe to British GQ now to get 6 issues for £15 and receive free access to our iPad & iPhone editions on your Apple devices
© Antoine Verglas
“She’s popular, she’s brilliant, she’s a wonderful woman,” says Trump with uncharacteristic understatement. And who are we to disagree? Not only does she manage to keep a man fabled for his erections (the latest is the Trump World Tower on New York’s First Avenue) on the right flight path, but she’s also fluent in four languages. Very handy for those summit meetings.
“I’m going to do everything I can do see that regular Americans can fly as high as their wings will take them,” says Trump. He’s got our vote.
Originally published in January 2000
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Ivanka Trump: See Her Life in Pictures
Ivanka Trump’s Life in Pictures
Long before she took a job in the White House, Ivanka Trump became used to the spotlight.
When she was in elementary school, paparazzi followed her in an effort to get a comment on her parent’s very public divorce. She co-hosted the Miss Teen USA pageant as a teenager, appeared with her father on The Apprentice as an adult and even made a cameo on the teen drama Gossip Girl with her husband Jared Kushner.
In a way, Trump was able to use her spot in the public eye her advantage: growing her career, first as a model then as a female executive in the family business and an entrepreneur for her own fashion line.
Before her father announced his run for President, Trump was never really the object of the criticism and derision she is experiencing now; her professional roles required no clarifying explanations. And, she remained largely removed from the political scene.
“After my father declared his candidacy, it became that all the things that I was doing that I was praised for, the same people, the critics, viewed them through this different lens. Somehow, all the same things they applauded me for as a millennial, as a female entrepreneur, were now viewed very cynically as opportunistic,” she told the New York Times.
These criticisms will likely continue to dog her. But she’s the subject of such curiosity and fascination because its clear she has the full admiration and trust of her father. What remains to be seen is how and when she will use that influence.
Norman Parkinson—Norman Parkinson Archive/Corbis/Getty ImagesThe Trump Family, circa 1986. The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty ImagesDonald Trump with daughter Ivanka at the premiere of the film ‘Stepping Out’, on Sept. 23, 1991. Ron Galella—WireImageDonald and Ivanka Trump during Maybelline Presents 1991 Look of the Year in New York City, on Sept. 3, 1991. Robin Platzer—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty ImagesDonald Trump wearing a Yankee baseball uniform with children Eric and Ivanka at a Police Atletic League softball game held at Yankee Stadium in Bronx, New York, on Jan. 01, 1992. Brian SmithDonald Trump and his daughter Ivanka in Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach, FL, in 1996. Pierre Vauthey—Sygma/Getty ImagesIvanka Trump walks at the Mugler Haute Couture Autumn-Winter show, in 1997. Alexei Hay—Trunk ArchiveIvanka Trump poses for Harper’s Bazaar, in 2007. Rob Loud—Getty ImagesIvanka Trump and Jared Kurshner at the Narciso Rodriguez fashion show in New York City, on Sept. 9, 2007. Brian Marcus/Fred Marcus Photography—Getty ImagesIn this handout image provided by Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner attend their wedding at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, NJ, on Oct. 25, 2009. Philip Ramey—Corbis/Getty ImagesIvanka Trump on holiday with her husband Jared Kushner in Porto Cervo, Sardinia, on Aug. 19, 2010. Harry Benson for TIMEDonald Trump with his children, from left: Donald John “Don” Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump at Trump Tower in New York City on July 6, 2016. Joe Raedle—Getty ImagesIvanka Trump walks on stage to deliver a speech during the Republican National Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, OH, on July 21, 2016. J. Scott Applewhite—APIvanka Trump, with her husband Jared Kushner and their children, depart after her father President Donald Trump formally signed his cabinet nominations into law in the President’s Room of the Senate on Capitol Hill, in Washington, on Jan. 20, 2107. Saul Loeb—pool/EPAIvanka Trump arrives at the US Capitol before the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump in Washington, on Jan. 20, 2017. Robyn Beck—AFP/Getty ImagesVanessa and Donald Trump Jr (L), Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner salute the crowd after dancing on stage during the Freedom ball at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, on Jan. 20, 2017. Jabin Botsford—The Washington Post/Getty ImagesPresident Trump and Ivanka Trump walk to board Marine One as they head to Dover Air Force Base from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, on Feb. 01, 2017. Saul Loeb—AFP/Getty ImagesJustin Trudeau sits alongside Ivanka Trump during a roundtable discussion on women entrepreneurs and business leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, on Feb. 13, 2017. Brendan Smialowski—AFP/Getty ImagesAngela Merkel and Ivanka Trump talk before a meeting with President Trump and business leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House, in Washington, DC, on March 17, 2017. Andrew Harnik—APIvanka Trump attends a news conference with President Trump and Jordanís King Abdullah II in the Rose Garden at the White House, on April 5, 2017. Molly Riley—Getty ImagesPresident Trump listens while Ivanka Trump speaks during a video conference with NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station, in the Oval Office at the White House, in Washington, DC, on April 24, 2017. Carsten Koall—EPAIvanka Trump walks at the Holocaust Memorial, in Berlin, Germany, on April 25, 2017. REX/Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump board Marine One at the White House in Washington, DC for a trip to New York City on May 4, 2017.
Donald and Ivanka Trump Moments That Totally Weird Us Out
Donald and Ivanka Trump | Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images
It’s obvious that Donald Trump and his daughter are quite close. While that could be all well and fine, disturbing comments Trump has made about Ivanka Trump over the years have made their close relationship a bit unsettling.
From the shocking thing Trump said he has in common with his daughter to the seriously cringe-worthy admission he made in an interview (No. 9), these moments between Trump and Ivanka will totally weird you out.
1. Calling his daughter ‘hot’
Ivanka was just a teenager when he made these statements. | Drumpfsterfire1 via Instagram
Trump has been making creepy comments about his daughter for years. Back when Ivanka was just 16 years old, she’d hosted the 1997 Miss Teen USA pageant.
According to The Independent, Trump turned to Miss Universe and asked her, “Don’t you think my daughter’s hot? She’s hot, right?”
Next: He made one disturbing comment after another.
2. He’d date her if she wasn’t his daughter
These embarrassing comments didn’t seem to faze Ivanka. | Fusion via YouTube
During an interview on The View, Trump made more than a few disturbing comments about his daughter. Right off the bat, he willingly engaged in conversation about Ivanka posing for Playboy. After noting, “I don’t think Ivanka would inside the magazine,” he added, “She does have a very nice figure.”
Somehow, it gets more disturbing. He claimed, “If Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”
Next: He didn’t mind Howard Stern calling her this.
3. Agreeing that Ivanka is ‘a piece of ass’
He agreed with Howard Stern’s comment. | Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images
While sitting down on The Howard Stern Show in 2004, Trump was in agreement with the host that Ivanka is “a piece of ass.”
After Trump commented, “My daughter is beautiful, Ivanka,” Stern asked, “By the way, your daughter … Can I say this? A piece of ass.” Trump didn’t hesitate to agree, simply responding, “Yeah.”
Next: No father should ever use this word to describe their daughter.
4. Discussing Ivanka’s ‘voluptuous’ body
He’s mentioned Ivanka’s curves. | Rick Wilking/AFP/Getty Images
Trump has made disturbing comments about his daughter with Stern on more than one occasion. In 2006, when Trump returned to The Howard Stern Show, they moved their conversation specifically to Ivanka’s breasts.
Stern commented that Ivanka “looks more voluptuous than ever,” and even asked if she’d gotten implants. Rather than shutting down discussion about his daughter’s breasts, he responded that she didn’t get implants.
Trump even added, “She’s actually always been very voluptuous. She’s tall, she’s almost six feet tall and she’s been, she’s an amazing beauty.”
Next: You won’t be able to look at this without cringing.
5. This Vanity Fair photoshoot
This cringe-y photoshoot gave us nightmares. | Faq_Teenee via Twitter
Trump didn’t even need to say anything for us to get creeped out by this moment. Leave it to the internet to find this disturbing shot from a Vanity Fair photoshoot, taken at Mar-a-Lago. Ivanka was just 15 years old in this photo, making the cringey lap-sitting and face-caressing that much more uncomfortable.
Plus, as social media users pointed out, the statue they’re sitting on just adds to the discomfort of the whole thing. “WHY DOES THIS EXIST?!?,” a Twitter user wrote. “Why are parrots having sex? You weirdos!”
Next: This is Trump’s favorite thing he has in common with Ivanka.
6. ‘Sex’ is Trump’s favorite thing they have in common
He thinks about his daughter’s interest in sex. | Evan Agostini/Getty Images
During a joint interview on The Wendy Williams Show in 2013, Trump and Ivanka gave very different answers to the same question. Williams asked them what their favorite thing was that they had in common, to which Ivanka replied, “Either real estate or golf.”
Then, Trump made it weird. He claimed, “Well, I was going to say sex, but I can’t relate that to her.” The fact that “sex” even came to his mind makes us cringe, but him saying it out loud made it that much worse. He took the sex talk even further in another interview (No. 9).
Next: This innocent term turns disturbing with context.
7. Ivanka referring to him as ‘daddy’
Should she be calling him ‘daddy’? | Ivanka Trump via Instagram
While delivering a speech in North Dakota on tax reform in 2017, Trump shared a conversation he’d had earlier with Ivanka. “ wanted to make the trip. She said, ‘Dad, can I go with you?’ She said actually, ‘Daddy, can I go with you?’ I like that, right?” Trump recalled.
Sure, children can call their father “daddy” without it being scandalous. However, when you’re a woman in your mid-30s and you consider all the controversial moments Ivanka has had with her father, the term “daddy” becomes pretty cringe-worthy.
Next: Trump again objectifies his own daughter
8. Objectifying Ivanka
Donald Trump loves to comment on his daughter’s appearance.| Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
Most women feel as though they can relax around their fathers, and they won’t have to be subjected to the same objectification they must deal with in the world. However, that clearly isn’t the case with Trump and Ivanka.
On The Howard Stern show back in 2003, Trump made yet another disturbing comment, saying, “You know who’s one of the great beauties of the world, according to everybody? And I helped create her. Ivanka. My daughter, Ivanka. She’s 6 feet tall; she’s got the best body.”
Next: Does Trump really wish he wasn’t her father?
9. If he wasn’t married and her father …
Please don’t finish that sentence, Donald | Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
In a Rolling Stone interview from 2015, journalist Paul Solotaroff interviewed Trump and his children.
After meeting Ivanka, he sang her praises to Trump who quickly quipped, “Yeah, she’s really something, and what a beauty, that one. If I weren’t happily married and, ya know, her father …”
Next: Trump ruined a moment on The Dr. Oz Show that had to be edited out.
10. Things get weird on The Dr. Oz Show
Donald Trump kisses his daughter Ivanka Trump. | Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
In 2016, while on The Dr. Oz Show, Trump declared how much he loved kissing Ivanka. After Dr. Oz commented on how lovely it was to see a father kiss his daughter, Trump commented that he kissed Ivanka, “with every chance gets.”
The comment was edited out of the final show.
Next: How did Ivanka feel about Trump’s jaw-dropping Access Hollywood tape?
11. A highly disturbing comment
Trump was married to Marla Maples when he made these comments. | Diane Freed/Getty Images
Apparently, Trump’s fascination with Ivanka started well before she was an adult. Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen reported that when Ivanka was just 13 years old, her father asked, “Is it wrong to be more sexually attracted to your own daughter than your wife?”
The Post reportedly removed the quote from the column before it was published. How disturbing!
Next: He compared Ivanka to an adult film star.
12. He compared Stormy Daniels to Ivanka
He once compared the adult film star to his daughter. | Ethan Miller/Getty Images
By now, you’ve probably heard of Stormy Daniels, the adult film star who claims she and the president had an affair in 2006 while Melania was pregnant with their youngest son, Barron. Well, it turns out even she reminded Trump of his daughter, despite how creepy that may sound.
During an interview with In Touch in 2011, Daniels admitted that Trump once compared her to Ivanka. “He told me once that I was someone to be reckoned with, beautiful and smart just like his daughter,” she said.
Next: The Apprentice crew recalls his disturbing behavior.
13. He talked about her on the set of The Apprentice
Donald Trump reportedly made lewd comments about his daughter on the set of the show. | Shealah Craighead/The White House
Those who witnessed Trump’s behavior from a distance are equally disturbed by the crass comments he makes about his daughter. In 2016, The Associated Press interviewed former crew members from The Apprentice and asked about how he acted on set.
Many of the employees recalled times when Trump would make lewd remarks towards the crew. According to the , one crew member in particular recalled that he once made a disturbing comment about a camerawoman’s behind and compared her beauty to that of Ivanka’s.
Next: Their body language is seriously uncomfortable.
14. Awkward body language
Donald Trump rubs his daughter’s shoulders. | Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Even when Trump isn’t necessarily saying anything alarming about his eldest daughter, many have pointed out and raised their eyebrows at their awkward body language. From rubbing her shoulders to constant kisses, it seems the president goes out of his way to make make unnecessary body contact with his daughter.
Next: Is he this “attentive” to his other daughter too?
15. His second daughter doesn’t get the same attention
Tiffany Trump doesn’t get the same bizarre attention from her dad. | Alex Wong/Getty Images
While Trump has been known to sing Ivanka’s praises, often to an uncomfortable extent,, his second daughter, 24-year-old Tiffany doesn’t get the same the glowing statements. Instead, President Trump once said during a Fox & Friends interview,
“I’m very proud of my children. I mean, I’m just looking at them right now, as an example for your show. But I’m very proud because Don and Eric and Ivanka and — you know, to a lesser extent ’cause she just got out of school, out of college — but, uh, Tiffany, who has also been so terrific. They work so hard.”
Additional reporting by Aramide Tinubu.
Read More: Meet the Famous Women Who Rejected Donald Trump
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