Melania Trump defends husband Donald after astonishing personal attack on female television presenter
US President Donald Trump has launched a remarkably personal attack on television host Mika Brzezinski, describing her as "bleeding badly from a face-lift" as she begged to spend the New Year's holiday with him.
Mr Trump's team have described this week as "Energy Week", hoping to get the president to focus on the energy sector. They are also confronted with their stuttering plan to "repeal and replace" Obamacare.
I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don't watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came..— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 29, 2017
...to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year's Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 29, 2017
But instead of focusing on the policies, as his White House aides berate the media for failing to do, Mr Trump spent Thursday morning attacking Brzezinski, co-host of MSNBC's politically-focused breakfast show, Morning Joe.
The tweets were greeted with disgust on social media, with many pointing out that Melania Trump said she wanted to make cyber bullying the focus of her work.
However, Mrs Trump gave his tweets a pass.
"As the first lady has stated publicly in the past, when her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder," her communications director, Stephanie Grisham, said in a statement.
Brzezinski, daughter of former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, who died last month, is engaged to her co-host Joe Scarborough, a Republican former congressman for Florida.
The pair's sharp political debate is considered must-watch television for much of Washington; the television equivalent of BBC radio's Today Programme.
The head of news at MSNBC responded to the attack, tweeting: "Never imagined a day when I would think to myself, 'it is beneath my dignity to respond to the president of the United States.'"
Buzzfeed News pointed out that, shortly before Mr Trump tweeted, the couple were discussing his fake Time magazine cover.
Paul Ryan, the speaker of the house, who frequently grants Mr Trump leeway with his social media use, said the tweet was inappropriate.
Republican senators, including Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, also criticised the tweets, describing them as undignified.
Brzezinski and Scarborough are fiercely critical of Mr Trump, who was once a friend of Scarborough's, and offered to officiate at their wedding.
Scarborough told Vanity Fair that in January, while having dinner at the White House with the president and Jared Kushner, Mr Trump suggested the couple wed at Mar-A-Lago or the White House.
“That’s when Jared interrupted and said, ‘Hey, you know what? I’ve got my license. I could marry you,’” said Scarborough.
He claimed that Mr Trump replied: “‘Why would you marry them? They could have the president of the United States marry them.’”
But Brzezinski, 54, is against the idea.
“The White House that I grew up in was an amazing place. If it weren’t Trump, it might be something to think about,” Brzezinski said.
“The mental picture is just fascinating, but the reality is just … no. No, no, no, no, no.”
In a heated White House press briefing spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Morning Joe had in the past called Mr Trump and his staff, including herself, "utterly stupid, mentally ill, liars".
She added: "I'm a woman and I've even attacked by that show many times but I don't cry foul. It's like the Twilight Zone. They do it day after day, then the president defends himself and everyone's appalled. "The American people voted for a fighter. They knew what they were getting."