All The Supposed Reasons Melania Trump Stepped Back From The Spotlight

Several of Donald Trump's family members have been actively campaigning for him since he announced his 2024 presidential bid in 2022, but his wife isn't one of them. While she was by his side during the announcement, Melania Trump has largely been absent from the campaign trail since. Her absence has drawn plenty of attention, but the former first lady has actually been keeping a low profile for longer than the reelection news. Melania has retreated from the public eye for varying reported reasons. 

Many stem from her time in the White House. From feeling betrayed by aides who turned on the Trumps and released books about them to getting tired of competing with Ivanka Trump for the role of first lady, Melania had enough of life in the limelight. Donald's criminal trials didn't help, especially the case involving Stormy Daniels. She has been trying to distance herself from the scandals to preserve her privacy. But Melania has also had more clear reasons for stepping back from her public figure role.

The illness and subsequent loss of her mother in January 2024 required her attention in late 2023, causing her to miss Christmas and New Year's Eve festivities at Mar-a-Lago. But Donald has promised his wife will join him on the campaign trail. "Pretty soon. When it's appropriate, but pretty soon. She's a private person," he said on "Meet the Press" in September 2023. She may be, but she is also said to have deeper motivations for avoiding the spotlight.

Melania Trump had a good reason for skipping Christmas and NYE

Melania Trump was nowhere to be seen during Donald Trump's Christmas celebrations at Mar-a-Lago in 2023. But the presidential candidate made no big deal about it. During a New Year's Eve speech, he told attendees that his mother-in-law, Amalija Knavs, had been sick. "Melania — great First Lady, so popular, the people love her — she's now in a hospital with her mother," he said in a clip recorded by a guest (via Newsweek). "Her mother, Amalija, is very ill, but hopefully she'll be recovering."

Before Trump's address, a source close to Melania also played down her absence, noting nothing else should be expected from her. "Melania has always been very devoted to her entire family," the insider told Fox News. "It should be no surprise that she spent this Christmas with her ailing mother." Donald and the unnamed friend weren't exaggerating that Knavs' condition was serious. Melania's mother died at 78 in early January 2024. "We will miss her beyond measure and continue to honor and love her legacy," Melania shared on X.

Melania hasn't handled Amalija's death well. When she turned 53 on April 26, 2024, the former first lady opted to forgo the festivities as she continued to grieve. "She is still suffering the loss of her mother and this birthday is difficult in that respect," a source told People. Instead, she reportedly planned to stay in and celebrate with her father, Viktor Knavs, and son, Barron Trump.

Melania Trump's absence from Super Tuesday party sparked marriage rumors

When Melania Trump missed his Super Tuesday gathering in March 2024, Donald Trump had no good reason to share with the hundreds of guests who turned up to watch the results. But her absence didn't go unnoticed. "Melania notably did not make an appearance at Trump's Super Tuesday watch party tonight at Mar-a-Lago," CNN reporter Kate Sullivan tweeted. Many interpreted it as a sign that something was going on with Melania and Donald's marriage.

"How come Trump was so sad last night? He should have been happy last night doing so well on Super Tuesday. Was it because Melania wasn't there to support him. I think something is going on with them," one X user conjectured. Neither Donald nor Melania gave any explanations, but Melania's former aide seemingly stood up for her. "WARNING! Melania Trump was NOT at Donald's victory party because she did NOT have to be," Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, author of "Melania and Me," blasted on X

Wolkoff argued that her presence or absence was irrelevant to the event. "His supporters do NOT care if she is by his side or NOT, so now she does NOT have to be," she continued. It is unclear whether Wolkoff was speaking with knowledge of Melania's mindset. However, Wolkoff's defense was ironic nonetheless because she reportedly played a part in Melania's decision to retreat from the spotlight. And also because she has been at odds with the Trumps since 2017.

Melania Trump reportedly felt betrayed by ex-aides

Melania Trump is said to have felt hurt when former aides, some of whom she considered friends, released tell-all books after leaving the White House. After working for Melania as press secretary and later as her chief of staff starting in 2017 until her resignation amid the U.S. Capitol attack in January 2021, Stephanie Grisham (seen above) criticized the Trump administration in her October 2021 book, "I'll Take Your Questions Now." While her criticism was mainly directed at Donald Trump, Grisham revealed personal details about Melania.

That included the then-first lady's reaction to the news about Donald's alleged payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels. Grisham's book came a year after Melania's former aide Stephanie Winston Wolkoff released "Melania and Me." Wolkoff similarly revealed intimate details that Melania preferred to keep away from the public. After the book came out, Melania downplayed the relationship she had with Wolkoff. "[She] hardly knew me," she said in a statement (via NBC News). 

But Melania reportedly felt not only disappointed but also betrayed by her former aides' accounts, sources told The New York Times in 2023. After learning that close confidantes wouldn't think twice about disclosing personal information, she opted to retreat from the limelight. "She's learned how to close the door and close the shutters and remain private. We don't see a lot, we don't hear a lot," R. Couri Hay, a publicist who knew her when she lived in New York, told The Times. 

Melania Trump reportedly got tired of competing with Ivanka

Melania Trump is said to have had a complicated relationship with Donald Trump's daughter, Ivanka Trump. During her four years in the White House, Melania reportedly competed with her step-daughter to fulfill her duties as first lady, Katie Rogers wrote in her 2024 book, "American Woman" (via New York Post). It started early on when Melania initially stayed behind in New York to allow Barron Trump to finish the school year before moving to Washington, D.C. 

During those months, Ivanka reportedly carried out roles associated with the first lady, sparking what Rogers called an "internal power struggle" between the two that would last throughout the term. The then-president didn't help the situation. A month into his term, Donald shared that Ivanka would play a role. "Helping her and working with her will be Ivanka, who is a fabulous person, and a fabulous, fabulous woman," he said in a February 2017 news conference (via CNN).

Melania, who had yet to move to the White House, was displeased. When she arrived in D.C., she wanted to take the reins. The two began a tug-of-war over the smallest details, including seating arrangements, guest lists, and motorcades. "Melania was not thrilled about Ivanka steering the schedule and would not allow it," Stephanie Winston Wolkoff wrote in "Melania and Me" (via The New York Times). Melania grew tired of it, contributing to her stepping back from the spotlight, according to the 2023 New York Times piece.

Melania Trump wanted distance from the Stormy Daniels drama

The Stormy Daniels scandal is said to have caused Melania Trump a lot of humiliation from the beginning. She retreated from his side as soon as the news broke in January 2018, going so far as to take a separate car to that year's State of the Union. "She didn't take it lightly at all," Stephanie Grisham told CNN in April 2024. Since then, she has avoided any association with the criminal case by staying as far away from it as possible.

That's important to her because she doesn't want to be seen as someone who meekly stands by an adulterous husband. "She did not want to be like Hillary Clinton and standing by her man," Grisham said. "She's a very independent and strong woman." However, Melania addressed the Daniels-Donald affair before, arguing she didn't have time for it. "I'm a mother and a first lady, and I have much more important things to think about and to do," told ABC News in 2018.

But a source close to Melania has claimed she sees the criminal charges against her husband as political persecution, The New York Times reported in April 2024. And despite not attending any of the court appearances, she has been following closely. Donald admitted it hasn't been easy for her. "I think it's very hard for her. I mean, she's fine, but you know she has to read all this crap," he told Fox News in June 2024.