Saturday 17 March 2018

Melania 'planning to live in New York, not White House'

Donald Trump’s wife Melania. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
Donald Trump’s wife Melania. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Ruth Sherlock

The White House awaits its new occupants, but questions are being raised as to how much use Donald Trump's family will make of the historic residence.

It was reported yesterday that Melania Trump, the president-elect's wife, plans to remain at their penthouse apartment in New York so that Barron, the couple's 10-year-old son, can remain at his local private school.

"Melania is extremely close to Barron, and they have become closer during the campaign," a source close to Mr Trump's transition team told the 'New York Post'. "The campaign has been difficult for Barron, and she is hoping to keep disruption to a minimum." Another source told the newspaper that Mrs Trump would instead travel to the White House when needed, and was "fully on board" with taking on her role as first lady.

The source said Mrs Trump may move to the White House at the end of Barron's school year.

Jason Miller, a spokesman for the president-elect, said there is "obviously a sensitivity" about pulling Barron out of school in the middle of the academic year.

Meanwhile, Mr Trump publicly lauded James 'Mad Dog' Mattis as "very impressive" yesterday, fuelling speculation that the retired military general may be offered the position of defence secretary.

As the president-elect spent a second day meeting with candidates for his top team at his golf course in New Jersey, he appeared to revel in the game show-style tension he has created around the appointments.

"Numerous patriots will be coming to Bedminster today as I continue to fill out the various positions necessary to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!" he tweeted.

Despite the steady stream of high-ranking visitors over the weekend, Mr Trump has so far made just three appointments to his cabinet, filling the roles of attorney general, national security adviser and CIA director.

All three choices have been criticised by Democrats and human rights groups for representing hawkish and hard-right views. But in an apparent olive branch to Washington's moderate conservatives, the Trump transition team said yesterday that it was seriously considering appointing Mitt Romney to the role of secretary of state.

The 2012 Republican Party presidential nominee, who opposed Mr Trump's White House bid, calling him a "con man", spent an hour and half with the president-elect on Saturday.

Some observers speculated that, given the previous rancour between the two men, the meeting had mostly been a public relations stunt, so that Mr Trump could be seen to be making peace with key figures of the establishment that he alienated in his presidential campaign. But Mike Pence, the vice president-elect, who also heads Mr Trump's transition team, said the pair had had a "substantive exchange" and that Mr Romney was "under active consideration" to become America's chief diplomat.

Other figures included Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor, who was a key ally and leader of the transition team until he was dropped from the post earlier this month.

Mr Christie was damaged by a court convicting two close aides in a scandal involving the closing of a major bridge linking New York and New Jersey.

But a diplomatic source said Mr Christie's fall from grace may have had more to do with his refusal to rush to Mr Trump's defence following the publication of a recording in which the then-candidate boasted about sexually harassing women. (© Daily Telegraph London)

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