Melania Trump says she is “disappointed and disheartened” by the deadly riot at the US Capitol last week by supporters of her husband.
But in breaking her silence, she also lashed out at people she said have used the tragic event to spread “salacious gossip, unwarranted personal attacks and false and misleading accusations about me”.
The statement marked the first lady’s first public comment in the five days since a violent mob of Trump supporters, angry over the president’s election loss, stormed the Capitol on Wednesday and temporarily disrupted proceedings certifying that Democrat Joe Biden will be the next president on January 20.
“I am disappointed and disheartened with what happened last week,” she wrote in a White House blog post released before sunrise.
“I find it shameful that surrounding these tragic events there has been salacious gossip, unwarranted personal attacks and false misleading accusations on me – from people who are looking to be relevant and have an agenda.”
The first lady did not say who she was referring to.
Last week, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, the first lady’s former friend and one-time assistant at the White House, wrote an editorial accusing Mrs Trump of being “complicit in the destruction of America”.
Their friendship ended bitterly after Wolkoff, who had worked on arranging festivities for Trump’s inauguration in 2017, said the first lady failed to defend her after questions arose about inaugural spending, now the subject of federal and congressional investigations.
In the post on Monday, the first lady said, “This time is solely about healing our country and its citizens. It should not be used for personal gain.”
“Our Nation must heal in a civil manner,” she wrote.
“Make no mistake about it, I absolutely condemn the violence that has occurred on our Nation’s Capitol. Violence is never acceptable.”
She also urged people to stop the violence, not judge people by the colour of their skin or “use differing political ideologies as a basis for aggression and viciousness”.