Washington: First lady Melania Trump appeared before cameras Wednesday, accompanying her husband, President Donald Trump, at a briefing on hurricane season preparedness at the Washington headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency - a seemingly routine event that wouldn't normally be newsworthy.
But her low-key presence - Melania Trump sat to her husband's left around a conference table and nodded as her husband and other officials spoke - marked the first time she's been seen by the media for nearly a month, capping the end of an unusual absence from public sight, even from a first lady who is known for prizing her privacy.
"She went through a little rough patch, but she's doing great," Trump said of his wife. To her, he said, "She's done a fantastic job as first lady - the people of our country love you."
The briefing was also attended by Vice President Mike Pence and a number of Trump's Cabinet secretaries. The first lady has previously traveled with her husband to hurricane zones.
Earlier this week, Melania Trump had attended her first White House event in weeks, hosting a reception on Tuesday for the families of slain U.S. military service members, though that event was closed to the media. That was the first she had been seen publicly since May 10, when she was photographed standing alongside her husband at Joint Base Andrews as the couple greeted three Americans who had been released from prison in North Korea.
The White House announced on May 14 that Melania Trump had undergone a successful embolization procedure to treat what was described as a "benign" kidney condition. She was released after a five-day hospital stay but remained out of sight. With few updates about her condition, speculation on social media became rampant.
The first lady addressed the theories herself, tweeting on May 30 that "the media is working overtime speculating where I am & what I'm doing. Rest assured, I'm here at the @WhiteHouse w my family, feeling great, & working hard on behalf of children & the American people!"
Her husband on Wednesday lashed out about the rumors, though he wrongly said the news media had reported them. "The Fake News Media has been so unfair, and vicious, to my wife and our great First Lady, Melania," Trump tweeted Wednesday morning. "During her recovery from surgery they reported everything from near death, to facelift, to left the W.H. (and me) for N.Y. or Virginia, to abuse. All Fake, she is doing really well!"
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