Donald Trump delivered a speech at the annual Gridiron Club dinner that critics say humiliated his wife, with Trump joking about Melania leaving him after his very public cheating scandal.
The remarks came at the annual event, which brings together the media and politicians with skits, songs, and speeches to make fun of representatives from both parties. As USA Today noted, Trump’s 32-minute speech was filled with cracks about his political opponents and personal enemies, including the New York Times. But the conclusion of Trump’s speech drew controversy, as he made reference to wife Melania leaving him and bolting the White House.
In the remarks, Trump made fun of the huge turnaround in staff during his first year in office, which has seen nearly every player there at the start either being fired or quitting.
“Everyone is asking who will be next to leave — Stephen Miller or Melania?” Trump said.
While it wasn’t clear if Trump explicitly referenced his cheating scandals, that was the impression left to those attending the event, including many who reported about it on Twitter.
The remarks come amid growing rumors of a fracture in the relationship between Donald and Melania Trump. Within the past few months, new stories have emerged about Donald’s alleged extramarital affairs, including a year-long affair with adult film star Stormy Daniels that took place just after Melania gave birth to their son, Barron. A more recent report claimed that Trump carried on an affair with Playboy model Karen McDougal at the same time.
The reaction to Trump’s speech was immediate. Journalist David Corn, who was the first to report about the salacious dossier claiming that Trump had an illicit encounter with prostitutes during a trip to Russia, said the speech was humiliating to Melania.
To make the situation even more uncomfortable, Melania Trump was actually in attendance at the Gridiron Club dinner. As CNN noted, the first lady actually accompanied Donald in what the report called a “rare outing” together for the couple. Melania has kept her distance from Donald, especially in recent weeks, including bowing out to a planned trip to a conference in Davos and instead remaining in Florida.
While there have been rampant rumors that Melania Trump may be considering divorce, representatives for the first lady have continually denied reports that there is any tension between her and Donald Trump, saying that the relationship is doing just fine.