Melania and Ivanka Trump keep slyly slamming Trump. Why? Here are 3 theories.

Ivanka, Melania, and President Trump
(Image credit: Van Vucci/AFP/Getty Images)

While President Trump was busy mean-tweeting Monday, first lady Melania Trump was addressing a cyberbullying conference. "Most children are more aware of the benefits and pitfalls of social media than some adults," she said. "It can be used in many positive ways, but can also be destructive and harmful when used incorrectly." Was she talking about her husband? Well, it fits a pattern: The two women closest to Trump, his wife, and daughter Ivanka Trump, occasionally issue a mild or ambiguous critique of something Trump said or did — splitting up migrant families, calling the press "the enemy of the people," trashing LeBron James — then deny they're rebuking him. What's going on? Here, three theories:

1. Melania is passive-aggressively punishing Trump

In her book Unhinged, Omarosa Manigault Newman suggests "Melania uses style to punish her husband" while "counting every minute until he is out of office and she can divorce him." For example, Melania wore that "I Really Don't Care Do U?" jacket, Manigault Newman writes, "to hurt Trump, setting off a controversy that he would have to fix."

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2. Ivanka and Melania are medieval tropes

"Both Melania and Ivanka follow to a T the template of the medieval queen," who'd regularly "provide cover" for the king, says Sonja Drimmer at The Atlantic. "They are helping him project an image of strength, even when he is forced to back down, by framing his many reversals as responses to their pleas and not admissions of political weakness." Yes, "Melania has occasionally used her platform in this way, but it has been Ivanka's entire raison d’être in the Trump cinematic universe," agrees Christina Cauterucci at Slate.

3. Melania really just doesn't care

"Melania's just over it, and now I think she's starting to consistently realize that she can just, you know, slam Trump in a very classy way," Trevor Noah posited at The Daily Show. "She doesn't have to say anything to him, about him, she just says it about whatever he's speaking about." Peter Weber

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.