The first 100 days of the presidency have been a strain on President Trump’s family, especially for first lady Melania Trump and their son, Barron, Mr. Trump told The Washington Times in an exclusive interview.
“There is no question, it is a big burden on the family,” the president said in an Oval Office session.
Since the inauguration, Mrs. Trump has been criticized for just about everything, including her glamorous official portrait and her decision to live primarily in New York City until Barron finishes the school year.
“She’s been terribly abused by the press, really unfairly,” the president said. “She’s a high-quality person. She’s been amazing for the country.”
The president confirmed that Mrs. Trump and Barron will move to Washington after the school year, and acknowledged that the transition is rough on his son.
“I have a son who’s a very young boy — he just turned 11,” Mr. Trump said. “He’ll be taken away from his school and be put into a brand-new school. He likes playing on his soccer team in New York, they’re all of his friends, and you know he’ll be taken away from that team. We didn’t want to do it in the middle of a season.”
The White House hasn’t said which school Barron will attend in Washington. President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama faced a similar challenge in 2009 when they moved their daughters, then ages 7 and 10, from Chicago to Sidwell Friends School in Washington.
First daughter Ivanka Trump, who is serving as an unpaid adviser to her father, came in for some razzing by an audience in Germany last week as she spoke of her pride about Mr. Trump’s advocacy for women. Like any other devoted father, the president paid special attention to the incident, saying he listened to a tape of the event and found the audience’s reaction to be “very minor.”
“I listened to that, and you had to listen pretty [carefully] — that was not booing like we all know it,” Mr. Trump said. “She gave an answer, and she’s cool. She can handle it.”
Of the first lady, Mr. Trump said she is winning over her detractors.
“You saw her with the Argentinian president’s wife [last week],” Mr. Trump said. “She’s been a great representative, I think. In fact, her polls: She went up 29 points. Did you see that? But she’s been very highly abused by the press, which was very unfair. And now people are starting to know her.”
A CNN poll in early March found that Mrs. Trump had an approval rating of 52 percent, more than double her level of approval from a year earlier. Her rise in popularity prompted the president to joke that he should seek her advice.
Mrs. Trump has been largely silent about her critics as she works to put her own stamp on the role of first lady, whether it’s visiting children in a hospital ward or hosting the wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Mrs. Trump made a rare comment about the criticism at a rally for the president in Florida in February.
“I will always stay true to myself and be truthful to you, no matter what the opposition is saying about me,” Mrs. Trump told the crowd. “I will act in the best interests of all of you. I’m committed to creating and supporting initiatives dear to my heart, which will have an impact on women and children all around the world.”