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Former first lady Melania Trump repeatedly rejected requests to hold an election night event at the White House in November, according to a new book about the last days of the Trump presidency, but she finally gave in after her husband called from Air Force One. “This is your night — do what you’re going to do,” she reportedly told then-President Donald Trump. “You’re going to do it anyway.”
Wall Street Journal reporter Michael C. Bender writes about the incident in Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost. He interviewed dozens of people for the book, including Donald Trump. Melania Trump was worried about holding an event at the White House amid the coronavirus pandemic, Bender writes, especially after a September ceremony in honor of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett turned into a superspreader event.
The president’s chief of staff at the time, Mark Meadows, approached the first lady three times about having an election night party, and was always turned down. With nine days to go before the election, Meadows told Melania Trump that the Trump International Hotel would not work as a venue, due to local health restrictions, making the White House the best option. Melania Trump held firm, backed by her spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, and the White House’s chief usher, Timothy Harleth.
“Win or lose, there are going to be protests that night,” Grisham reportedly said. “Are we going to end up with a 300-person slumber party at the White House if these people can’t get out?” After being rejected for a fourth time, Meadows went to Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, who approached his father-in-law. Four days before the election, Trump called the first lady to talk about the event, and she finally gave in, Bender writes. She made sure to stay away from the crowd, spending the evening with her parents and son Barron, and would “only come if Trump needed her to stand next to him for a public speech.”
The party ended up a disaster for Trump. As the numbers started to come in and Fox News called Arizona for Joe Biden, the mood turned sour. “What the f–k?” Trump reportedly shouted. His guests tried to console him, and from there “it was a s–tshow,” one official told Bender. “And the saddest thing I’ve ever seen.” Read more at People.