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- First lady Melania Trump's $39 army-green parka that had "I really don't care, do u?" emblazoned on the back sparked backlash when it accompanied her June 2018 trip to visit with migrant children at the US-Mexico border.
- The bold message from an otherwise private first lady inspired widespread theories, but her spokesperson insisted it was not a deliberate choice.
- Trump herself would later claim the jacket was directed to the "left-wing media," echoing her husband's dismissal of the press's attention on their family.
- However, CNN correspondent Kate Bennett claims in a new book that her impression of the jacket was that it was a jab directed at the president's oldest daughter and adviser, Ivanka.
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First lady Melania Trump raised eyebrows with a $39 army-green parka she wore on a June 2018 trip to visit with migrant children at the US-Mexico border.
The jacket was casual and largely unremarkable, but a message emblazoned on the back in white writing sparked headlines for saying, "I really don't care, do u?"
Photos of the jacket inspired immediate backlash, particularly considering that it came on the heels of President Donald Trump's controversial "zero-tolerance" immigration policy that separated more than 2,500 immigrant minors from their parents or caregivers.
MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images
Critics deemed the jacket as insensitive, and online observers and outlets floated many theories about what the notoriously private first lady was thinking.
After the backlash, the first lady's spokeswoman (now White House press secretary), Stephanie Grisham, repeatedly said that the jacket wasn't meant to send a message at all. Months after the jacket's debut, the first lady said in a candid interview with ABC News that she thought it was "obvious" the jacket's message was not "for the children," but just a jacket "to go on the plane and off the plane."
Partially echoing her husband's jabs at the press, she added that the message on the jacket was meant "for the left-wing media who are criticizing me."
However, CNN correspondent Kate Bennett claims in a new book that her impression of the jacket was that it was a jab directed at the president's oldest daughter and adviser, Ivanka.
"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 in a new biography of the first lady.
Bennett goes on to detail 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 writes can speak without reservation to the president.
Ivanka's multiple international trips have also worn on the two's relationship, as the adviser's vaguely justified appearances with world leaders struck "too close for comfort for Melania, who thought Ivanka was invading her turf."
The book, "Free, Melania: The Unauthorized Biography," will be released on Tuesday.