ABC News reported Sunday that First Lady Melania Trump and her communications team have since attempted to walk back the support she initially expressed for LeBron James after her husband’s recent Twitter attack on the basketball star.
According to a senior White House official, Mrs. Trump was not “taking sides” in the online feud between James and the President.
On Saturday, Mrs. Trump’s communications director Stephanie Grisham released a statement, stating that the First Lady believed that James was “working to do good things on behalf of our next generation.”
“Just as she always has,” the statement continued, “the First Lady encourages everyone to have an open dialogue about issues facing children today. As you know, Mrs. Trump has traveled the country and world talking to children about their well-being, healthy living, and the importance of responsible online behavior with her Be Best initiative.”
“Her platform centers around visiting organizations, hospitals and schools,” Grisham added, “and she would be open to visiting the I Promise School in Akron,” a school that James himself founded and opened just last week for “at-risk” youth.
Only a day before the First Lady’s glowing endorsement of James, President Trump criticized the basketball legend via Twitter. After James was interviewed on CNN about the school he recently opened on Friday, Trump took to Twitter to insult both James and CNN’s Don Lemon, asserting that it is very difficult to make “Lebron look smart,” going on to then refer to Lemon as “the dumbest man on television.”
The President then ended the tweet with “I like Mike,” a reference to the retired basketball player Michael Jordan, who used to play for the Chicago Bulls.
Jordan responded to the President’s tweet shortly afterwards, commenting, “I support LJ. He’s doing an amazing job for his community.”
— Don Lemon (@donlemon) August 4, 2018
During the interview, Lemon proceeded to ask James what he would say to the President if he were sitting in the same room at that very moment, to which James quickly replied, “I would never sit across from him.”
Since Mrs. Trump’s initial comments about James, which she delivered through her spokesperson, a senior White House official has insisted that the First Lady was in no way picking sides by praising James for his charity work.
“That wasn’t her taking sides,” the official said, “that was her office stick to what she is focused on, which is using Be Best for what it’s intended — to help children.”