A conspiracy theory that Melania Trump has been replaced by a “body double” has resurfaced after President Donald Trump’s rally in Rochester, Minnesota, where she appeared with him and had an intimate moment.
“The real Melania won’t even hold his hand,” comedian Dana Goldberg tweeted jokingly, alongside footage of the head of state and his wife kissing.
“Wow. They negotiated some affection into Fake Melania’s stunt double contract,” another user joked of the same video.
“Melania’s body double is my favorite conspiracy theory,” another wrote of the interaction.
Before Friday’s rally, the theory resurfaced days ago when a photo of Melania Trump joining her husband on board a helicopter circulated across social media. Many pointed to the first lady’s appearance, which they suggested was off due to a different facial structure.
Nevertheless, BuzzFeed News’ Jane Lytvynenko debunked the theory just over three years ago when people speculated about a body double based on a video of Melania Trump and her husband.
“Three years and 12 days ago, we debunked the ‘fake Melania’ conspiracy and I’d just like to ask, with all I’ve got, to please not make me do it again,” she tweeted in response to the reappearing theory.
Alongside her comment was the piece, which pushed back on two claims the theory centers around. The first is that Trump’s clarification that Melania Trump was his wife was out of character. However, in reality, he had made the comment many times. The second claim is that the person in the clip did not look like the first lady. But, as Lytvynenko noted, the purported body double shared Melania Trump’s facial characteristics, and there were many other photos of the president’s wife taken the same day.
USA Today also fact-checked the theory after it resurfaced days ago. Notably, the publication spotlighted Akili Ramsess, the executive director of the National Press Photographers Association, and his claim that the angle at which the photo of the first lady was taken was responsible for her strange appearance. The publication also highlighted another driving force of the theory — Melania Trump appears to have a Secret Service agent that looks similar to her.
Elsewhere, Snopes also claimed that the speculation is false. In 2017, it called the evidence “flimsy at best” and noted that a blurry and possibly distorted video had driven the claims. The publication highlighted that the official CNN footage behind the theory shows that the visual effect was caused by the television screen.
The White House and the head of state have previously pushed back on the theory.