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Melania Trump attends first official event in 24 days

First lady Melania Trump, who had not been seen publicly for the past 24 days, attended an official White House event...

Posted: Jun 5, 2018 12:57 PM
Updated: Jun 5, 2018 12:57 PM

First lady Melania Trump, who had not been seen publicly for the past 24 days, attended an official White House event with President Donald Trump Monday afternoon.

The event, a private East Room reception for more than 40 Gold Star military families, was not in and of itself an unusual activity for the first lady of the United States. However, the first lady's absence made her appearance all the more newsworthy.

In a statement Monday night, Trump said it was a privilege to welcome the military families to the White House, and she thanked them and military members more broadly for their service.

"To all those who have lost loved ones in service to our country, our nation grieves with you," her statement read. "It is a solemn reminder that we, the American people, are able to live as freely as we do because of the selfless sacrifices of our men and women in uniform. We remain indebted to each of them and we honor them today, together, with their families."

The Gold Star event on Monday was closed to the press, with no opportunity for media photos or video, a decision made out of respect for the military family members, Trump's communications director Stephanie Grisham told CNN. It's the same treatment a similar event the Trumps hosted last year got.

A person inside the room told CNN's Jeff Zeleny that the President made a lighthearted joke about the first lady's extended absence from public view, saying the media was asking: "Where's Melania?"

He went on for a minute or so, saying the media was speculating where she has been.

"Did she leave him?" the President asked at one point, before pointing out that Melania Trump was, in fact, sitting in the front row. The riff was playful, but a bit awkward considering the event was to honor Gold Star families, who have lost loved ones at war.

The President also talked about the strong economy during the event, the person inside the room said.

The first lady's lack of recent viewings, prior to Monday's event, has created a storm of "where is she?" memes on the internet, and speculation on her whereabouts ran the gamut, from New York City to Palm Beach. She was, according a tweet Trump sent last week, at the White House, "feeling great."

Amid the scrutiny, and ahead of the Gold Star reception, Grisham told CNN there was nothing to the rumors, blaming the media for piquing public interest.

"Mrs. Trump has always been a strong and independent woman who puts her family, and certainly her health above all else, and that won't change over a rabid press corps," said Grisham. "She's confident in what she is doing and in her role, and knows the rest is just speculation and nonsense."

However, the volume of concern, and the cacophony of the conspiracy chorus, wasn't solely from the media. Twitter was abuzz with theories from political observers, both on the left and the right, with a public anxious to see their first lady.

On May 10, the first couple welcomed home American hostages from North Korea. Smiling for cameras from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, Melania Trump wore a checkered suit and her ubiquitous high heels, appearing happy and well for the 3 a.m. celebration of citizens returning to American soil. Yet four days later, on May 14, the first lady's office released the news that Trump had been admitted to Walter Reed Military Medical Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, for what her spokeswoman described as a medical procedure for a benign kidney condition.

The first lady remained hospitalized for five nights following the procedure, which was successful and without complication, according to a statement issued by Grisham.

However, Trump's absence from public view would extend for several more days.

Prior to her medical incident, the first lady's popularity was on the rise, according to a recent CNN poll, and she was seemingly growing more comfortable in the spotlight, hosting her first official state dinner and announcing her formal platform initiatives.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 94021

Reported Deaths: 2846
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds6979155
DeSoto542555
Harrison374372
Jackson339967
Madison321286
Rankin319375
Lee261067
Jones242778
Forrest239570
Washington218171
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Warren138150
Leflore137080
Pontotoc123616
Pike121348
Monroe118965
Scott116425
Copiah116333
Coahoma112827
Holmes109258
Marshall107615
Lincoln106853
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Yazoo103929
Simpson101443
Union97824
Tate95537
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Wayne87721
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Tippah64516
Attala64125
Walthall59425
Clay58117
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Clarke53739
Smith52414
Calhoun50612
Tunica48113
Montgomery45520
Claiborne45216
Lawrence42512
Yalobusha41814
Perry40918
Quitman3755
Humphreys37315
Stone35711
Greene34617
Webster33113
Jefferson Davis32811
Carroll31212
Amite31110
Wilkinson30217
Kemper28615
Sharkey26312
Jefferson2439
Benton2201
Franklin1893
Choctaw1795
Issaquena1033
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 131988

Reported Deaths: 2304
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19123337
Mobile13122290
Montgomery8688173
Madison763075
Tuscaloosa7323114
Lee575159
Shelby571950
Baldwin508749
Marshall387943
Calhoun337439
Etowah336547
Morgan321426
Houston272722
Elmore255847
DeKalb237119
St. Clair224335
Walker224380
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Limestone200119
Cullman186218
Dallas174926
Franklin174528
Russell17312
Autauga169124
Lauderdale165333
Colbert160926
Escambia156425
Blount156014
Jackson151611
Chilton150227
Dale133343
Covington131127
Coffee12838
Pike11619
Tallapoosa113683
Chambers113242
Clarke105517
Marion94828
Butler91138
Barbour8387
Winston71612
Marengo70119
Lowndes64927
Pickens63814
Bibb63610
Randolph62212
Hale61528
Lawrence59220
Bullock59114
Geneva5814
Monroe5768
Cherokee56916
Clay5527
Washington54913
Perry5386
Wilcox53111
Conecuh52411
Crenshaw52331
Macon47820
Henry4754
Fayette4269
Sumter41819
Lamar3532
Choctaw34512
Cleburne3326
Greene30015
Coosa1653
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