Melania Trump defended her legacy as first lady in a video posted on Monday, asked Americans to “lead by example” in caring for others, and name-checked her Be Best platform, which over the years never grew into a comprehensible policy effort.
“Use every opportunity to show consideration for another person,” Mrs. Trump said in the video, which was labeled a farewell. “In all circumstances, I ask every American to be an ambassador of Be Best. To focus on what unites us, to raise above what divides us, to always choose love over hatred, peace over violence, and others above yourself.”
Mrs. Trump’s last message as first lady was like so many that have come before: It was completely at odds with the behavior of her husband, President Trump, who was impeached last week for a second time for his role in inciting a violent riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
“As I say farewell to my role as first lady, it is my sincere hope that every American will do their part to teach our children what it means to be best,” Mrs. Trump said.
Over the past few days, Mrs. Trump has posted several farewell messages detailing her work in the White House, and asking Americans to be kind to one another. Last week, as the nation reeled from the aftermath of the Capitol riot, Mrs. Trump used her platform to lament that gossip had been spread about her — most likely a nod to a former aide, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who recently published an unflattering tell-all about their relationship.
In the end, Mrs. Trump’s most lasting contributions could likely be the aesthetic changes she oversaw, updates meant to make life in the White House more functional for the first family and their visitors over the visiting public.
In a message posted to the White House website on Monday, Mrs. Trump said that during her time at the White House, she ordered the restoration of an elevator, the repair of wallpaper in the Family Dining Room, and — in the midst of the pandemic — the revamping of the White House Rose Garden.
The goal, Mrs. Trump said, was to “balance the needs of the present with the continuity of overall architectural tradition of the White House.”
Though she demonstrated a respect for the historic nature of her home for the past four years, Mrs. Trump paid little attention to traditions that did not interest her.
She is currently without a chief of staff, a social secretary or a press secretary. Junior White House aides have scripted her farewell messages. And she has not reached out to the incoming first lady, Jill Biden, about transition matters. There are no plans for that to change before Inauguration Day.
It is customary for incoming and outgoing first ladies to meet for a tour of the White House, but on Monday, a person familiar with Dr. Biden’s thinking said that since Mr. Trump had still not conceded to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. it would not make sense for the two to meet.
That person added that Dr. Biden knew her way around, anyway.
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