First Lady Returns to Public Eye After 'Little Rough Patch' - NBC Chicago
President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump

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First Lady Returns to Public Eye After 'Little Rough Patch'

Melania Trump accompanied the president to a hurricane briefing at FEMA Wednesday



    First Lady Returns to Public Eye After 'Little Rough Patch'
    First lady Melania Trump, center, accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, left, applauds during a speaks to employees by President Donald Trump at the Federal Emergency Management Agency Headquarters, Wednesday, June 6, 2018, in Washington.

    Melania Trump's disappearing act is over.

    The first lady showed herself in public Wednesday for the first time in nearly a month, seated alongside her husband, President Donald Trump, for a briefing on the federal government's preparedness for the hurricane season that began June 1.

    The routine meeting at Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters took on outsized significance after the White House revealed that Mrs. Trump would accompany her husband. Prior to Wednesday, she had not been seen off the White House grounds since May 10.

    The first sighting of the first lady came as she and the president strolled down the walkway from the Oval Office and climbed into "the Beast," his idling limousine. She was wearing a belted trench coat and her customary high heels.

    Melania Trump Makes First Public Appearance in Weeks

    [NATL] Melania Trump Makes First Public Appearance in Weeks

    First Lady Melania Trump made her first public appearance in 26 days on Wednesday, joining the president for a meeting at the Federal Emergency Management Agency to mark the first full week of hurricane season. NBC News' Blayne Alexander reports.

    (Published Wednesday, June 6, 2018)

    Minutes later, Mrs. Trump took her seat alongside the president at one end of a long conference table as the FEMA briefing began, appearing to be her usual self.

    "She's doing great. She went through a little rough patch, but she's doing great," Trump said at the top of the meeting, surrounded by his Cabinet as several governors and other officials participated by video conference. "And we're very proud of her. She's done a fantastic job as first lady."

    He added: "The people love you. The people of our country love you. So, thank you honey."

    The first lady smiled and nodded as her husband and others spoke during the portion of the briefing that was open to journalists. She and the president later spent a few minutes greeting FEMA employees. Mrs. Trump stepped with ease, smiled and was heard telling one worker "thank you very much."

    It was her first appearance away from the White House since she and the president traveled to Joint Base Andrews to welcome home three Americans who had been released from detention in North Korea.

    Several days later, the first lady underwent a procedure to treat a kidney condition. She spent five days in the hospital before returning to the White House on May 19 to continue her recuperation. She held private meetings with her staff and worked on projects, though she skipped a few public events where her participation seemed likely, including a Medal of Honor presentation and a sports "field day" for professional athletes and kids on the South Lawn.

    White Official Tells Black Woman He Belonged to Master Race

    [NATL] White Official Tells Black Woman He Belonged to Master Race

    Some Leavenworth County, Kansas, officials are calling for Commissioner Louis Klemp's resignation after he insulted a black woman who had just presented a land-use study to the commission. "I don't want you to think I am picking on you because we are part of the master race. You have a gap in your teeth. We are part of the master race, don't you forget that," Klemp said. 

    (Published 2 hours ago)

    But speculation mounted as week after week passed without a public appearance, spawning wild theories about where she might be and what might have happened to her.

    The first lady addressed the issue on Twitter last week, saying: "I see the media is working overtime speculating where I am & what I'm doing. Rest assured, I'm here at the @WhiteHouse w my family, feeling great, & working hard on behalf of children & the American people!"

    Her husband was less charitable Wednesday.

    "The Fake News Media has been so unfair, and vicious, to my wife and our great First Lady, Melania," he wrote on Twitter. "During her recovery from surgery they reported everything from near death, to facelift, to left the W.H. (and me) for N.Y. or Virginia, to abuse. All Fake, she is doing really well!"

    He did not provide examples of articles he found to be unfair and it was possible he was referring to stories about conspiracy theories on social media.

    On Monday, the first lady participated in a White House event for military families. Journalists were not granted access out of respect for the families, meaning Mrs. Trump was seen only by those who attended.

    FDA Announces Crackdown on Cigarettes

    [NATL] FDA Announces Crackdown on Cigarettes

    The Food and Drug Administration is making moves against the tobacco industry in an effort to crack down on smoking in teens, saying it is working to ban menthol and mint in all cigarettes, as well as flavored cigars. The agency also announced it will limit the sales of flavored e-cigarettes to youths, both in stores and online.

    (Published 50 minutes ago)

    But video posted on Twitter showed the first lady strolling into the East Room accompanied by the president. She later tweeted event photos that showed her sitting next to the president.

    Earlier Wednesday, Trump signed a bill that will expand private care for veterans as an alternative to the troubled Veterans Affairs health system. The $51 billion measure has bipartisan support and builds on legislation passed in 2014 in response to a scandal at the Phoenix VA medical center, where some veterans died while waiting months for appointments.

    It would allow veterans to see private doctors when they do not receive the treatment they expected, with the approval of a VA provider. It would also expand to cover families of veterans of all eras.

    Watch: Bei Bei the Panda Has a Blast in the Snow

    [NATL-DC] Watch: Bei Bei is Having a Blast in the Snow

    On the first snowfall of the season, Bei Bei the giant panda at the National Zoo tumbles and plays in the fresh powder. Two inches of snow fell at the zoo, Storm Team4 says. 

    (Published 3 hours ago)

    Associated Press writer Laurie Kellman contributed to this report.