WASHINGTON — Things are getting a little “Real Housewives” around the White House.
In one of the stranger sideshows to his presidency, President Donald Trump’s first and third wives, Ivana and Melania, respectively, on Monday had a very public war of words — and his second wife, Marla Maples, is getting some shade out of the spat, to boot.
Here’s a breakdown: To promote her new book, “Raising Trump,” about parenting Trump’s three eldest children, Ivana Trump gave a Monday interview to “Good Morning America” in which she made some comments sure to privately raise the hackles of the woman currently occupying the role of Wife of Donald.
“I’m basically first Trump wife. Okay?” Ivana Trump said. “I’m first lady.”
— Good Morning America (@GMA) October 9, 2017
She offered faux sympathy for Melania Trump, saying “I think for her to be in Washington must be terrible.” (She had less subtle insults for her ex’s second wife, Marla Maples. “A showgirl” was her epithet of choice.)
But instead of letting those slights ride, Melania Trump took a page out of her husband’s playbook, the one that famously decrees he hit back harder at anyone who takes a swing.
Her spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, dispatched a crisp response dismissing Ivana’s remarks as “attention seeking” from someone who just wants to sell books and making clear that Melania Trump does not, in fact, hate her Washington life.
“Mrs. Trump has made the White House a home for Barron and the President. She loves living in Washington, DC and is honored by her role as First Lady of the United States. She plans to use her title and role to help children, not sell books.”
And the coda is the real clap-back: “There is clearly no substance to this statement from an ex, this is unfortunately only attention-seeking and self-serving noise.”
Carolyn Kaster, The Associated Press
First lady Melania Trump, joined by Counselor to President Donald Trump Kellyanne Conway, speaks during an opioid roundtable discussion at the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. Melania Trump invited experts and people affected by addiction to opioids to the White House for a listening session and discussion about the epidemic.
Evan Vucci, The Associated Press
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump stand for a moment of silence to mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, on the South Lawn of the White House, Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, in Washington.
Andrew Harnik, The Associated Press
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump wear protective glasses as they view the solar eclipse, Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, at the White House in Washington.
Carolyn Kaster, The Associated Press
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Chris Kleponis-Pool, Getty Images
President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump and their son Barron Trump arrive at the White House June 11, 2017 in Washington, D.C. According to reports, Melania and Barron will soon be moving from Trump Tower in New York City to the White House.
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First lady Melania Trump arrives at the San Damaso courtyard ahead of her husband President Donald Trump’s private audience with Pope Francis, at the Vatican, Wednesday, May 24, 2017. Melania turned to one of her favorite fashion houses, Dolce & Gabbana, for her audience with the pope and her arrival in Italy.
First Lady Melania Trump poses for a selfie with a girl during her visit to the pediatric hospital Bambin Gesu’ at the Vatican, Wednesday, May 24, 2017. President Donald Trump and Pope Francis, two leaders with contrasting styles and differing worldviews, met at the Vatican City on Wednesday, setting aside their previous clashes to broadcast a tone of peace for an audience around the globe. (Remo Casilli/Pool Photo via AP)
Susan Walsh, The Associated Press
First lady Melania Trump reads to children attending the annual White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Monday, April 17, 2017.
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This all started innocently enough. Ivana Trump has a book to promote. Her new memoir drops in less than 24 hours and she’s doing a publicity blitz. She revealed that she has a direct line to the White House and her ex-husband, but she doesn’t use it lest the current Mrs. Trump get the wrong idea.
“I [don’t] really want to call him there, because Melania is there. And I don’t want to cause any kind of jealousy or something like that, because I’m basically first Trump wife. Okay? I’m first lady,” she said.
But she feels for Melania Trump, she really does.
“I think for her to be in Washington must be terrible,” said Trump of the actual first lady. “It’s better her than me. I would hate Washington.”
Hating Washington, however, does not preclude her ability to rule it with an iron fist, if she had the inclination, the former Mrs. Trump made sure to note.
“Would I straighten up the White House in 14 days? Absolutely. Can I give the speech for 45 minutes without [a] teleprompter? Absolutely. Can I read a contract? Can I negotiate? Can I entertain? Absolutely. But I would not really like to be there. I like my freedom,” Ivana Trump said, in what could also be perceived as a dig against Melania Trump.