Melania Trump is escorted by a soldier and holds his arm while standing apart from her husband throughout Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington
- The first lady walked arm-in-arm with the serviceman at Wednesday’s ceremony
- Donald Trump was making his first official appearance since his election defeat
- Neither Melania nor the president were wearing masks, but Ivanka had one
Melania Trump walked arm-in-arm with a serviceman and stood apart from the president during Wednesday’s Veterans Day wreath-laying ceremony.
The first lady was escorted by the masked military man and sheltered under an umbrella with him during the visit to Arlington National Cemetery, on Donald Trump’s first public engagement since the election was called for Joe Biden.
Neither Melania, 50, nor the president, 74, were wearing masks at the cemetery, unlike Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka who had a face covering on.
Escorted: Melania Trump takes the hand of a uniformed member of the US armed forces during Wednesday’s wreath-laying ceremony, leaving Donald Trump to walk by himself
Melania sheltered under an umbrella during the visit to Arlington National Cemetery on a wet, dreary Veterans Day on Wednesday
Donald Trump walked alone during his first public engagement since the presidential election was called in favor of Democrat Joe Biden on Saturday
One former Trump aide, Omarosa Manigault Newman, has spread rumours that the couple’s marriage could end in divorce when their term in the White House ends in January.
She claimed: ‘Melania is counting every minute until he is out of office and she can divorce.
‘If Melania were to try to pull the ultimate humiliation and leave while he’s in office, he would find a way to punish her.’
Close watchers of the couple noticed at the end of a debate last month that Melania appeared to yank her hand away from her husband as they walked off a stage.
The Trump family had previously attracted criticism during the first debate in Cleveland for failing to wear masks while sitting in the audience.
Melania had appealed as long ago as April for people to wear masks, long before Donald Trump was first pictured wearing a face covering.
The presidential couple walked separately from each other as they took part in the somber ceremony at the tomb of the unknown soldier in Arlington’s National Cemetery
Melania Trump, pictured, was not wearing a mask despite appealing as long ago as April for people to wear face coverings during the pandemic
After joining her husband on stage without a mask after the first debate in Cleveland, Melania did wear a mask at the end of the final head-to-head in Nashville.
But on Wednesday, Melania was again without a mask despite her close proximity to the military man escorting her.
Neither Donald nor Melania made any public remarks during the somber ceremony on a wet, dreary day in Washington, although Melania paid tribute to the nation’s troops on Twitter.
Melania had three days earlier echoed her husband’s efforts to undermine the election by suggesting that ‘illegal’ votes had been cast.
The first lady said on Sunday that ‘the American people deserve fair elections… every legal – not illegal – vote should be counted’.
The president, who during the campaign refused to commit to honoring the result, has falsely claimed that he would win the election but for ‘illegal’ votes.
Spectators look on as the president and first lady arrive for the rainy wreath-laying ceremony
Donald Trump lays a wreath on his first official outing from the White House since Joe Biden’s victory in the election was declared on Saturday
Ivanka Trump was wearing a mask at Wednesday’s ceremony, unlike the president or first lady
Vice president Mike Pence also attended the Veterans Day ceremony, while president-elect Biden appeared at the Korean War Memorial in Philadelphia.
While Trump’s official schedule has been limited in recent days, he has made significant personnel moves, including the firing of defense secretary Mark Esper.
His pick as acting defense secretary, Christopher Miller, was among the Pentagon brass that joined him at Arlington.
Trump has not addressed the nation since Biden’s win, but has spread unfounded claims on Twitter and refused to acknowledge that his term is nearing its end.
He has made no mention of the dramatic rebound in the Covid-19 pandemic across the country, which is now seeing more than 100,000 infections per day.
Some supporters pushed back against the notion that Trump is shirking his presidential duties.
President-elect Joe Biden and incoming first lady Jill Biden made their own appearance at a Korean War memorial in Philadelphia
‘The president is out there as much as he’s ever been on Twitter, and the White House team are moving ahead with budget and staffing priorities,’ said Dan Eberhart, a prominent Republican donor and Trump backer.
He added: ‘The president is understandably focused on the ballot counting, but at some point soon he needs to turn his attention back to the lame duck session and putting a capstone on his first four years.’
Aides claim that Trump has been calmer than his tweets suggest, suggesting that he wants to keep fighting almost as performance, as a show to the 70million people who voted for him.
In recent days, some aides, including his daughter Ivanka, have started to talk to him about an endgame, questioning how much longer he wants to fight the result.
While Georgia is heading for a recount and Arizona is still too close to call, Biden’s win in Pennsylvania means he already has more than the 270 electoral votes needed.
The Democrat now leads by more than 50,000 votes in the state, which narrowly voted for Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016.
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