A new book by journalists Peter Baker and Susan Glasser claims that Melania Trump was not pleased with her husband Donald Trump‘s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, at one point telling the then-president: “You’re blowing this.”
The journalists make the claim in their new book, The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017–2021, which debuts next Tuesday and has been excerpted by various outlets.
According to CNN, the book includes a passage detailing how Melania, now 52, was “rattled by the coronavirus and convinced that Trump was screwing up.”
The authors write that, in a phone call with former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Melania outlined her worries, allegedly explaining that she had told her husband: “You’re blowing this. This is serious. It’s going to be really bad, and you need to take it more seriously than you’re taking it.”
The authors write that Trump, now 76, dismissed his wife’s concerns, saying, “You worry too much. Forget it.”
In the early days of the pandemic, Trump was steadfast in his claim that the virus would disappear, openly waffling on the importance of wearing a mask and continuing to host large-scale (sometimes indoor) campaign events despite public health guidelines advising against it.
In April 2020, Trump said he wouldn’t be wearing a mask even as he announced new federal guidelines recommending them.
By July, he had changed his stance, saying, “I’m all for masks … If I were in a tight situation with people, I would absolutely [wear one].”
In August, he waffled yet again, calling masks “patriotic” but hedging the statement with: “Maybe they’re great, and maybe they’re just good. Maybe they’re not so good.”
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Then, in September, during his first presidential debate with Joe Biden, Trump said that he approves of wearing masks, but also made fun of the Democrat for wearing one.
“Every time you see him, he’s got a mask,” Trump said mockingly. “He could be speaking 200 feet away from it, he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.”
Just two days later, Trump and Melania themselves tested positive for the virus.
“As too many Americans have done this year, @potus & I are quarantining at home after testing positive for COVID-19,” Melania wrote on Twitter at the time. “We are feeling good & I have postponed all upcoming engagements. Please be sure you are staying safe & we will all get through this together.”
Donald was eventually hospitalized with the virus, but later recovered, while Melania suffered from “a lingering cough” that led her to sit out some of her husband’s campaign events.
Melania faced both significant scrutiny and curiosity as first lady, such as when she wore an “I Really Don’t Care” jacket while visiting migrant children (which she later claimed was actually a message for the press). Privately, sources have said she is not interested in her husband launching another campaign for president.
“Melania does not like being in the public eye and has made it clear that she isn’t interested in doing it again,” one political source told PEOPLE last September.
“She likes family and her private life,” the source added. “The media glare is not for her.”