Melania and Ivanka Trump are notably missing among the former president’s family members who went to court during the secret trial.



CNN

Donald Trump listened to closing arguments Tuesday surrounded by three of his adult children and some of their spouses — the largest family gathering at the Manhattan courthouse since the former president’s secret trial began six weeks ago.

However, the display of family support also drew attention to the glaring absentees on the patriarch’s side of the family: his wife and eldest daughter.

While the jury’s verdict could be days away, Melania Trump and Ivanka Trump have yet to join the former president as he defends himself against 34 counts. Jared Kushner, Ivanka’s husband and one of Trump’s top advisers during his four years in Washington, also did not come to 100 Center Street for the trial.

Eric Trump, meanwhile, appeared several times behind his father in the dark Manhattan courthouse. Donald Trump Jr., although recovering from knee surgery, also made a few visits. On Tuesday, the two were joined by Eric’s wife, Lara, and, for the first time, by Trump’s youngest daughter, Tiffany, and her husband, Michael Boulos.

During a break in closing arguments, Trump’s eldest sons attacked the credibility of Michael Cohen, the prosecution’s star witness, and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who filed the case against Trump. Trump Jr. also took aim at Robert De Niro, who spoke outside the courthouse on Tuesday on behalf of President Joe Biden’s campaign. De Niro, Trump Jr. Said, “He needs attention because it’s been a while since he made a good movie.”

“We understand that this is political persecution,” he said. “That was demonstrated today, today by the Biden campaign itself having a rally here. »

Trump family members who did or did not appear in New York exemplify their approach to the spotlight generated by his third White House bid.

Although Trump’s children as a whole are not as involved as in his previous campaigns, Eric Trump has attended campaign events and court proceedings in another case. Trump Jr. has made selected appearances on the campaign trail and regularly hosts a television show Rumble in which he touts his father’s policies and interviews some of Trump’s most ardent supporters. Lara Trump remains deeply involved in the former president’s political operations and was recently named co-chair of the Republican National Committee after former party leader Ronna McDaniel lost the trust of the party’s presumptive nominee.

Melania Trump, however, has not appeared alongside her husband at a single Trump rally and rarely joins him in public. A Trump campaign spokeswoman did not respond when asked if she planned to accompany him during the final days of his trial. Sources close to the dynamic said it was not surprising that the former first lady did not attend or comment on the allegations at the heart of the matter.

Trump is accused of illegally orchestrating payments to silence Stormy Daniels, a porn star who told jurors she had a sexual relationship with the former president a year after he married Melania Trump. Early reports of that alleged encounter and subsequent payments released while Trump was in the White House embarrassed the then-first lady and put the focus on their marriage. During the trial, jurors also heard testimony from another alleged mistress, Playboy centerpiece Karen McDougal, who publicly claimed an eight-month affair with Trump overlapped with Melania Trump’s pregnancy with their son Barron .

Ivanka Trump’s absence from the Manhattan trial is not surprising to many close to the former president after she and Kushner publicly distanced themselves from Trump’s last presidential campaign. A source close to the campaign did not rule out the couple making a joint appearance before the verdict. Both served as senior advisers during his presidency, but Ivanka Trump announced she would not participate in the 2024 campaign, citing her desire to focus on her family.

“I love my father very much,” she said. “This time around, I am choosing to prioritize my young children and the privacy we create as a family. “I have no intention of getting involved in politics.”

A source close to Trump noted that Ivanka had particular concerns about making her children aware of their famous grandfather’s intense attention.

“When [Ivanka Trump] “I was in the White House, his kids were still at an age where they might not know exactly what was going on,” the source said. “Her kids are older now and that’s not the case anymore.”

Multiple sources said Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner received a cold reception in some social circles after their time at the White House, after facing backlash from friends over her father’s policies and behavior during his mandate. After leaving Washington, the couple left New York and settled in Florida.

Kushner’s parents, Charles and Seryl Kushner, were co-hosts of a New York fundraiser hosted by billionaire Howard Lutnick during the trial. At the end of his presidency, Trump pardoned Charles Kushner, a real estate developer who served prison time in the mid-2000s after pleading guilty to 16 counts of tax evasion, including one count of retaliating against a federal witness – his brother-in-law. – and another count of lying to the Federal Election Commission.

Trump sometimes lashed out at the isolation caused by his court appearances, complaining early on privately and publicly that his allies had not made their presence felt at home and abroad from the courtroom. The Republican nominee, potential vice presidential contenders, donors and allies responded by flocking to the Manhattan courtroom in droves, sparking daily intrigue over who might show up to defend him.

Eric Trump became the first family member to attend the trial. He sat behind his father on the ninth day as a witness presented him with the paper trail allegedly linking Trump to a payment to Daniels.

On Tuesday, Eric Trump apologized to the jury while defending his father.

“It’s been a colossal waste of time,” he said.

CNN’s Kate Sullivan contributed to this story.

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