Donald Trump

The Model American

Melania Trump is the exception to her husband’s nativist politics.

BY LAUREN COLLINS | May 9, 2016 | Source: The New Yorker | Illustration: Bill Blatt

July of 2002, two years before Donald Trump became engaged to the Slovenian model Melania Knauss, he visited her native country for three hours. The couple had been in London. At around 8 P.M. on a Monday night, they landed at Ljubljana’s Brnik airport in Trump’s Boeing 727. Viktor and Amalija Knavs—the former Melanija’s parents; she’d long ago changed her name—awaited them. The party, which included Trump’s longtime executive assistant Norma Foerderer, proceeded directly to a pair of black Mercedeses. After a thirty-minute drive, they arrived at the Grand Hotel Toplice, a luxury property on Lake Bled. Entering the hotel’s restaurant through a side door, they were shown to a table with a view. Trump and Knauss sat on one side; the Knavses and Foerderer on the other, in what later became the manner of contestants on “The Apprentice.” The restaurant had been cleared of patrons. Over virgin cocktails (Trump had a Diet Coke*), onion escalope with pan-fried potatoes, and forest blueberries, Melania interpreted. Trump declined coffee. “Is this place for sale?” he asked his future father-in-law on the way out, according to the journalists Bojan Požar and Igor Omerza. He was back at the airport before midnight.

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