Melania Trump wanted to send full-length mirrors to African children so they could ‘see that they are very strong,’ book says



melania trump africa
First lady Melania Trump walks with singing children as she visits the Nest Orphanage in Limuru, Kenya, Friday, Oct. 5, 2018. Carolyn Kaster/AP
  • Melania Trump wanted to send mirrors to children she met in Malawi, former aide Stephanie Grisham writes.

  • Grisham said children asked the Americans to take photos of them because they didn’t know what they looked like.

  • “Children need to know what they look like and see that they are very strong or very beautiful,” Grisham quotes her as saying. 

  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former First Lady Melania Trump wanted to send full-length mirrors to children she met in Malawi so they could “see that they are very strong or very beautiful,” her former top aide Stephanie Grisham writes in her forthcoming tell-all memoir.

Grisham, serving as Melania’s communications director at the time, recounted her October 2018 trip to Africa, the first lady’s first solo trip abroad, and how moved she was by their visit to the small East African country of Malawi.

While touring the Chipala Primary School, Grisham wrote that the first lady’s entourage was “surprised” that children at the school asked their American visitors to take photos of them on their phones “so they could see what they looked like.” 

“As soon as we returned to the United States, she wanted us to send full-length mirrors to the school,” Grisham continued, quoting Melania as saying, “We need to send the school mirrors. Children need to know what they look like and see that they are very strong or very beautiful.” 

Grisham wrote that while Melania was “insistent” on it, the request was shot down by the former first lady’s then-chief of staff Lindsay Reynolds, who said, in Grisham’s recounting, that the White House counsel’s office had determined sending the mirrors would be “a liability.” 

“Only my opinion of course, but I never really believed that to be true, though, because on more than one occasion Lindsay shared with me that she thought it would be a PR nightmare, a model sending African children mirrors,” Grisham wrote. “Everyone in that White House thought they were an expert in communications; it was the story of my life.” 

In the memoir, “I’ll Take Your Questions Now,” due for release on October 5 and obtained by Insider ahead of publication, Grisham reveals new anecdotes about former President Donald Trump and the former first lady. She describes an overall toxic and dysfunctional environment in the White House. 

Grisham was one of the few close confidantes of the notoriously private Melania, who pursued a few initiatives as first lady but didn’t seek the limelight. Grisham wrote that she was nicknamed “Rapunzel” by the Secret Service and was largely checked out of the action by the end of her husband’s term.

Spokespeople for Melania have publicly denounced her former top aide in personal terms, calling her a disgruntled former employee seeking a payday.

“The author is desperately trying to rehabilitate her tarnished reputation by manipulating and distorting the truth about Mrs. Trump,” Melania’s office said in a Monday statement. “Ms. Grisham is a deceitful and troubled individual who doesn’t deserve anyone’s trust.”

The former first lady’s office previously called blasted Grisham’s memoir as “an attempt to redeem herself after a poor performance as press secretary, failed personal relationships, and unprofessional behavior in the White House,” accusing Grisham of “seeking to gain relevance and money at the expense of Mrs. Trump.”

Grisham told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Monday that she “expected” the attacks on her credibility but has the “receipts” to back up her claims.

“I notice she’s not denying anything fully in the book just yet, I think she knows that I have a lot of receipts to show I’m being fully honest,” Grisham said. 

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