8 of the biggest takeaways from a new book on Melania Trump that reveal her fashion, strategy, and life inside the White House

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melania trump
melania trump

The first lady Melania Trump is an intriguing figure who has come to be known for keeping to herself, bucking White House tradition, and sparking conspiracy theories.

Whether her relationships within the administration, her sleeping arrangements within the White House, or the amount of power she flexes within her marriage with the president, a new book relays several details from insiders that shed new light on a private first lady.

The book, "Free, Melania: The Unauthorized Biography," by Kate Bennett, was released Tuesday. Here are the biggest takeaways from it.

Trump has an icy relationship with the second lady Karen Pence.

Trump and Pence greeting students at Albritton Middle School in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, on April 15.
Trump and Pence greeting students at Albritton Middle School in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, on April 15.

Chuck Burton/AP

Bennett wrote that on a trip to Corpus Christi, Texas, in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, either the first lady had not invited Pence to her spacious private cabin at the front of the plane or Pence didn't accept an invitation. Trump also didn't remove her 4-inch heels when the two landed and towered "almost comically" over the second lady, who was in flats.

This "confirmed" Bennett's suspicions the two weren't close, as Trump, who stands at 5 feet 11 inches, usually wears a low heel or flat when appearing alongside someone shorter or in lower shoes. Bennett wrote that the incident was not only uncharacteristic but struck her as "strange and telling" about their relationship. 

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The infamous jacket was probably a jab directed at the president's oldest daughter and White House adviser, Ivanka.

Trump departing Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on June 21, 2018, wearing a jacket emblazoned with the words
Trump departing Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on June 21, 2018, wearing a jacket emblazoned with the words

MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

"I believed, and still do, that the jacket was a facetious jab at Ivanka and her near-constant attempts to attach herself for positive administration talking points," Bennett wrote.

Bennett also described the first lady's relationship with Ivanka as "cordial, not close," and the adviser's near-constant presence around her father in the White House as frustrating to the one person Bennett said could speak without reservation to the president.

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Overall, there are no coincidences when it comes to the first lady's fashion choices.

Trump arriving before the presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis on October 9, 2016.
Trump arriving before the presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis on October 9, 2016.

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Whether it's the "I don't really care" jacket or the pink pussy-bow blouse Trump wore to an October 2016 debate after the release of the "Access Hollywood" tape in which then-candidate Donald Trump bragged about grabbing women's genitals, Bennett wrote that while the specific message being sent by garments that spark theories may be unclear, any apparent significance wasn't an accident.

"Having covered her for as long as I have, each thing she does has meaning to it, even the clothing she wears," Bennett wrote.

She also speculates that there are some patterns to Melania's choices, as with her "theory that when the Trumps are unhappy with each other, Melania wears menswear — because Trump notoriously likes to see women in tight, short, ubersexy and feminine dresses."

The first lady not only has her own room but occupies a separate floor of the White House from her husband.

Getty Images/Chris Kleponis

The book says the president sleeps in the master bedroom on the second level of the White House residence, while the first lady stays on the third floor in a two-room space that was previously occupied by the former first lady Michelle Obama's mother, Marian Robinson.

Alongside her bedroom is a "glam room," for Trump to do her daily hair and makeup and a private gym with a Pilates machine.

Bennett noted that this made the Trumps the first couple since the Kennedys and the Johnsons to have separate bedrooms in the residence.

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Despite her usually steely demeanor, the first lady is friendly and down to earth.

Trump with Sara Netanyahu during a visit to Jerusalem on May 22, 2017.
Trump with Sara Netanyahu during a visit to Jerusalem on May 22, 2017.

SEBASTIAN SCHEINER/AFP via Getty Images

Friends told Bennett that Melania's straight face that could be seen at many of her public appearances was a result of her Slovenian upbringing and that despite some public perception that she was cold or stiff, Trump was a warm friend and notably sent the White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham text emojis to "convey her happiness, disappointment or surprise."

Despite White House statements minimizing the stay at the time, the first lady's secret hospital trip was a serious medical intervention.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Citing a trusted source, Bennett wrote that the first lady's five-day stint for an embolization procedure at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center near Washington, DC, in June 2018 was "not minor" and "made for a dangerous and complicated procedure."

"Couple that with the amount of pain she had apparently been in, according to close friends, and how long she had been in pain prior to the surgery, and there was concern that if her recuperation was not careful and extended, her type of condition could possibly result in the loss of her kidney," Bennett wrote.

Her widely ridiculed childhood wellness program, Be Best, is not really a thing.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Trump unveiled the campaign in May 2018 and has traveled in its name to schools, wellness centers, and even throughout an African tour in its name. 

Bennett wrote, however, that "to this day it has no publicly stated framework, timeline or markers for progress … The likelihood that it will ever have the impact of Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign or Nancy Reagan's Just Say No is slim to none."

Ultimately, Melania has more power in the administration than most people credit her with.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Bennett wrote that since the president embarked on an exhaustive campaign, Trump kept her distance and participated only in events and appearances that she selected, a far more curated agenda than is typical of political spouses. 

Instead of following the typical pattern of a campaign wife turned first lady, Melania "leads by her intuition," unapologetically bending the president's ear and expressing her opinions like no one else can.

Her "rule-breaking" time as first lady offers a perfect complement to Trump's "rule-breaking presidency," Bennett wrote.

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