It’s safe to say that there’s no love lost between Donald Trump and Vanity Fair. The magazine’s notoriously caustic editor, Graydon Carter, rarely misses an opportunity to tear into the most powerful man in the world: he famously dubbed Trump a “short-fingered vulgarian” back in 1988 (pre-empting the global fascination with the president’s small hands) and often uses his editor’s letter to criticise Trump’s presidential decisions. Trump, for his part, frequently takes to Twitter to trash “grubby”, “sloppy” Carter and his “failing” magazine.
So it’s safe to say that Trump won’t be happy with an article published in Vanity Fair’s May issue, in which journalist Evgenia Perez investigates the president’s marriage to third wife, Melania.
Perez interviewed several people close to the Trumps, and her article is peppered with insider anecdotes guaranteed to make your eyes widen (the time Trump allegedly openly begged Melania to praise him in front of a reporter, for example).
However, perhaps the most startling – although at the same time, not surprising at all – is the allegation that Trump agreed to have a baby with Melania only on the condition that she ‘got her body back’ after the birth.
Melania gave birth to the couple’s only son, Barron (now 11) in 2006. A guest to one of Trump’s homes during Melania’s pregnancy tells Perez that Trump told them about the deal he had struck with his wife.
“She promised him that everything would go back to the way it was [after she had the baby],” says this guest, who described the agreement as a “contract”.
The guest adds that they noticed Trump treating Melania unsympathetically during her pregnancy.
“There was no ‘How do you feel?’ No opening of doors, making sure she didn’t fall,” they say. “Just ‘You wanted to have a baby.’ ”
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Melania’s spokesperson, Stephanie Grisham, insists that President Trump was “very warm and supportive throughout her pregnancy”. However, the visitor’s account tallies with the image of Trump as a man who has both publicly disregarded his wife on a number of occasions.
The hashtags #SaveMelania and #PoorMelania began trending in January, after pictures from President Trump’s inauguration showed him striding away from his wife as soon as they arrived at the White House – leaving her to be accompanied into the building by Barack and Michelle Obama.
At President Obama’s inauguration, in contrast, he waited patiently for Michelle and walked alongside her up the steps to the White House.
Similar images emerged last week that showed Trump steaming ahead of his wife as they left Air Force One – in stark contrasts to how US presidents and their wives normally exit the presidential jet.
Trump has also repeatedly made clear how much value he places on his wife’s physical and sexual attractiveness. In 1999, shortly after the couple began dating, Trump notoriously called US shock jock Howard Stern to talk about Melania. The two men joked about the size of her chest and whether she stole money from Trump’s wallet, before Trump put his new girlfriend on the phone to speak to Stern about their sex life.
In another troubling conversation with Stern about Melania, Trump responded to a question about whether he’d stay with her in the event of a car accident by asking: “How do the breasts look?”
Images: Rex Features