Profile: Melania Trump’s silent path through impeachment

Hillary Clinton spent the morning of her husband’s impeachment visiting Capitol Hill to rally Democrats to his side. Pat Nixon kept assuring reporters her husband wouldn’t quit — right up until he did. Eliza Johnson, frail from tuberculosis, kept watch over her husband during his impeachment while sitting in a room across from his White House office.

Melania Trump, just the fourth first lady forced to grapple with the threat of her husband’s impeachment, is pressing on through the ordeal silently, showing no inclination to speak out publicly on behalf of her spouse.

While her husband recently broke his own record on daily tweets and delivered his longest-ever rally speech as he was being impeached, the first lady has largely held her tongue — with the exception of a sharp tweet scolding a law professor who invoked 13-year-old Barron’s Trump name during an impeachment hearing.

“Like every first lady, she’s sort of trying to forge her own path through this,” said Tammy Vigil, a Boston University communications professor and author of a book about Melania Trump and Michelle Obama. “In this particular case, she doesn’t really have a whole lot of history to look toward.”

Melania Trump has said in the past that the president is the one the public needs to hear from since he was the one elected.

Trump is only the third U.S. president to be impeached, accused of pressuring Ukraine’s leader to investigate Trump’s political rivals as he withheld security aid approved by Congress. Trump is also accused of obstructing House efforts to investigate the matter.

The president, who insists he did nothing wrong, is unlikely to be removed from office by the Republican-controlled Senate.

A private person by nature, Melania Trump has rarely clued the public in on her thoughts, even as she weathered other difficult moments in her husband’s presidency, including the special counsel’s two-year investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia.

Mrs. Trump also stayed silent after a former Playboy model and an adult film actress went public with claims of having extramarital affairs with Trump before he was president. Trump has denied having the relationships.

Shortly after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the beginning of a formal impeachment inquiry in late September, Melania Trump flew alone to Wyoming and spent two days promoting national parks and spending time in the outdoors for her “Be Best” youth initiative.

Amid the impeachment debate, she and the president also welcomed scores of lawmakers and other guests to White House Christmas receptions.

From fashion model to first lady: Melania Trump through the years

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AP news researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.

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