Melania Trump has issued a statement condemning the violence that unfolded at the US Capitol and the “salacious gossip” she claims to have been a victim of in its wake.
The First Lady’s press release on Monday (local time), titled Our Path Forward, detailed how she had been reflecting on 2020 and Covid-19, which she called an “invisible enemy”.
She expressed her “heart goes out to” the six individuals who died as a result of the sickening rampage on the US Capitol last Wednesday, highlighting she was “disappointed and disheartened” she had been targeted.
“I find it shameful that surrounding these tragic events there has been salacious gossip, unwarranted personal attacks, and false misleading accusations on me – from people who are looking to be relevant and have an agenda,” she wrote.
“This time is solely about healing our country and its citizens. It should not be used for personal gain.”
It wasn’t entirely clear what accusations Mrs Trump was referring to, however she has come under fire for taking part in a photoshoot for her coffee table book while the riot was unfolding.
She added the “nation must heal in a civil manner”, saying the level of violence inflicted by hundreds of Trump supporters at the US Capitol was “never acceptable”.
Melania Trump calls for unity
Reflecting on the hard-fought “freedom” Americans had to express their viewpoints without persecution, Mrs Trump asked “citizens of this country to take a moment, pause, and look at things from all perspectives”.
“I implore people to stop the violence, never make assumptions based on the colour of a person’s skin or use differing political ideologies as a basis for aggression and viciousness. We must listen to one another, focus on what unites us, and rise above what divides us,” she wrote.
“It is inspiring to see that so many have found a passion and enthusiasm in participating in an election, but we must not allow that passion to turn to violence. Our path forward is to come together, find our commonalities, and be the kind and strong people that I know we are.”
Moments throughout the year had been defined by the “unwavering resolve” Americans had shown in helping each other, Mrs Trump said.
“It is these defining moments that we will look back and tell our grandchildren that through empathy, strength, and determination, we were able to restore the promise of our future,” she said.
“Each of you are the backbone of this country. You are the people who continue to make the United States of America what it is, and who have the incredible responsibility of preparing our future generations to leave everything better than they found it.”
First Lady criticised over US riots statement
Mrs Trump said it had been “the honour of my lifetime to serve as your First Lady”, expressing gratitude for the “millions of Americans” who supported herself and her husband, Donald Trump, in the past four years.
“I am grateful to you all for letting me serve you on platforms which are dear to me. Most importantly, I ask for healing, grace, understanding, and peace for our great Nation,” she wrote.
“Every day let us remember that we are one Nation under God. God bless you all and God bless the United States of America.”
The statement has since been widely criticised for being unfathomably out-of-touch, with members of the public unhappy the riots had been trivialised as “salacious gossip”.
“This is a trash statement from a trash first lady. Why does ‘salacious gossip’ have anything to do with a violent insurrection that took place last week?” one person responded in a tweet to Mrs Trump’s Twitter post.
“We no longer have the freedom to express our viewpoints without persecution in America so I don’t know what you're talking about,” another argued.
“It took you 5 DAYS to respond to the Capitol being hijacked by terrorists YOUR HUSBAND encouraged & cheered. 5 DAYS OF SILENCE as we learned about police being beaten & murdered. 5 DAYS OF SILENCE as we watch your family members dancing during a terrorist attack. No forgiveness,” someone else wrote.
Trump faces second impeachment
US Congressional Democrats have begun a push to force US President Donald Trump from office, introducing one article of impeachment accusing him of inciting insurrection over a violent attack on the Capitol last week.
The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives is expected to take up the matter as early as Wednesday.
Passage would make Trump, a Republican, the only president in US history to be impeached twice.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, many of her fellow Democrats and a handful of Republicans say the US president should not be trusted to serve out his term, which ends on January 20.
“In protecting our Constitution and our Democracy, we will act with urgency, because this president represents an imminent threat to both,” Pelosi wrote to her fellow House Democrats on Sunday (local time).
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.