Editor's note: Recently, a story based on a source associated with Claude Taylor was debunked as a hoax by the Guardian and disavowed by Taylor. In light of this, we advise any information derived from sources provided by Claude Taylor to be viewed in the light cast by this revelation.
The whirlwind of reports about what's behind Donald and Melania Trump's lack of hand-holding may have sparked a bit of damage control in Vatican City on Wednesday. After two days of Melania avoiding her husband's hand in Tel Aviv and again upon arrival in Rome, there was a media frenzy that speculated as to why the first lady unabashedly refused to hold Donald's hand when he reached out to her.
Daily Mail reports that the Trumps held hands twice during their visit in the Sistine Chapel at Vatican City. Their hand-holding was photographed once while they were admiring the ceiling painted by Michaelangelo and again when they took a photo with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. Their affection wouldn't be such a big deal if it weren't for the mishaps that have been seen before the world this week. Melania Trump's refusal to hold hands with her husband by swatting it away in Tel Aviv made big enough news, but when she refused to hold his hand again in Rome, #Handgate had a life of its own. The hashtag was seen with #FreeMelania and #RescueMelania in a lot of retweets.
The photo below shows the Trumps holding hands while inside the Sistine Chapel staring at Michelangelo's artwork on the ceiling.
Is this the Trumps' form of damage control over something as trivial as hand-holding? Chances are it's just the perfect situation for the president and his wife to be closer while inside such a majestic and historical chapel. Donald and Melania look at peace in the photo without a team of reporters, photographers, and dignitaries surrounding them.
On Monday another rumor surfaced that the Trumps signed divorce papers but decided not to file once Trump was elected president. The source of the rumor came from former White House staff member Claude Taylor, who worked there during the Clinton administration. He claimed that a member of the mainstream media knew about the Trumps having divorce papers drawn up. There was also a settlement that had been decided on, but the documents were never filed. News sources noticed Taylor's tweet and based their reports off his claims.
Donald and Melania Trump have been the subject of divorce rumors for months. Sources described as former friends or longtime associates have claimed Melania is miserable and unhappy with her new life. The White House has responded several times to deny the reports and assure that Melania is fully supportive of her husband.
A report by Politico contradicted all of those negative rumors when several named sources insist that Melania is protective of Donald.
"Melania loves the president unconditionally, definitely, she really cares about the president, she feels a kind of protection," says Paolo Zampolli, a former modeling agent and friend of the first lady's. "The main concern to the president and the first lady is that these leaks are unacceptable."
Roger Stone, a longtime associate of Donald Trump's, told the news source that Melania has a keen sense over who's trying to use her husband.
"She's very private and she's very smart. Anyone who thinks she's a mannequin doesn't get it," Stone explains. "She has excellent instincts into who is trying to exploit their influence with him."
What's more, Melania is allegedly dissatisfied with Press Secretary Sean Spicer. She's unhappy with how he and the president's communications team are falling short of defending him, according to an "outside adviser."
The media and intrigued observers aren't letting up on analyzing why the Trumps do what they do -- whether it's hand-holding or the smallest interactions between them.
[Featured Image by L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo/AP Images]