Donald and Melania Trump rode separate cars to the State of the Union on Tuesday, breaking with the longstanding tradition of the president and first lady arriving together.
The first lady's communications director Stephanie Grisham told CNN that Melania rode in a different car because she is "honouring her guests for the true heroes they are."
"In addition to holding a White House reception and photo opportunity for them, along with their friends and family, she is accompanying them to the Capitol," Grisham said in a statement. "Once there, the first lady and Mrs. Pence will host a more intimate meet-and-greet to engage with them on a personal level prior to the speech."
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told CNN that Melania came separately for "no reason other than she can greet the guests and he can go straight in."
Grisham said the first lady wanted to have a more intimate pre-event gathering with her 15 guests, who include the parents of two girls who were killed by members of the MS-13 gang in New York. Trump has promised to "destroy" MS-13 and has drawn parallels between the gang and undocumented immigrants.
Both recent former first couples — Barack and Michelle Obama, and George and Laura Bush — drove together in a limo from the White House to the State of the Union, for all eight years each president was in office.
A White House official told CNN that Donald and Melania Trump will travel together in the same car to return to the White House.
In Michael Wolff's explosive new book Fire and Fury, he writes that the Trumps' relationship was “perplexing” to those who worked closely with them, and that they would often go for days at a time without contact. “He and Melania spent relatively little time together... Often she did not know where he was, or take much notice of that fact,” he writes.
Then, a few weeks ago, InTouch magazine dropped a bombshell interview with Stormy Daniels, a former adult film actress who alleged that she had sex with Trump in 2006, a year after he married Melania and while she was pregnant with Barron. The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump's lawyer paid her $130,000 to keep quiet about their tryst.