Opinion: Could Trump Be Considering Divorcing Melania if He Wins?

Photo Illustration by Erin O’Flynn/The Daily Beast/Getty Images
Photo Illustration by Erin O’Flynn/The Daily Beast/Getty Images

When Donald Trump squared off in a high-stakes debate in Atlanta last week, his wife Melania wasn’t there to offer the traditional post-debate smooch. When Trump received a guilty verdict in a Manhattan fraud trial, Melania wasn’t there for the traditional hand-holding walk out of the courthouse. While Trump crisscrosses the country holding rallies, Melania has confined her campaigning to venues just down the hall. In April, she joined Caitlyn Jenner and Mehmet Oz in addressing Log Cabin republicans at Mar-a-Lago. A second Log Cabin fundraiser is scheduled for July 8 at Trump Tower.

Melania’s reluctance to appear with Trump in public has forced him to be an understanding spouse. When questioned by Kristen Welker of Meet the Press this fall, Trump called Melania a “private” and “great person” and insisted that “at the appropriate time—she’ll be out there.”

It must feel humiliating. Still, Trump needs Melania’s support to win. He knows it. She knows it. And right now, she has the leverage to decide when and where she will campaign—and, presumably, how much money will flow from Trump’s PAC into her bank account for each appearance.

But should Trump win a second term, that leverage will shift. Trump has stated loudly that his next presidency will be one of “retribution.” Presumably, the first wave will fall on outspoken critics like former representative Liz Cheney and current Rep. Adam Schiff, but Melania should consider how she might fare in a second Trump administration.

If Melania drags her heels about returning to the White House, Trump could become the first sitting president to get a divorce. While this hasn’t happened in U.S. history, it was workshopped recently in Russia. In 2014, Vladimir Putin jettisoned his longtime wife, Lyudmila, to spend more time with his out-of-wedlock family. Wannabe dictator Trump may have noticed that Putin’s divorce didn’t hurt the Russian president’s popularity at all.

Trump’s marriage to Ivana, the mother of his three eldest children, lasted about 15 years. His marriage to Marla Maples lasted less than five. Melania married Trump in 2005 so the 54-year-old former model has already put in 19 hard years. It’s also the first time that Trump has been married to a menopausal-aged woman. If Trump has a vision board, it probably includes a photo of Bill Belichik and his 24-year-old cheerleader girlfriend.

Trump might hold out until 2025 to celebrate their 20th anniversary which, fittingly, is the “Chynah” Anniversary. But after that, Trump might conclude that there’s more fun in being the most powerful man in the world and single—the ultimate Golden Bachelor who can offer women not just a single rose, but an entire rose garden.

“A divorce between the Trumps is inconceivable,” Manhattan divorce attorney Raoul Felder told The Daily Beast in a recent phone call. Felder, who represented Rudy Giuliani in his second divorce, insisted the marriage would hold. “They’ve stuck through terrible difficulties in the past,” he said.

Still, Felder acknowledged that Trump’s power has grown exponentially. “When he was running the first time, I could get him notes. Now you can’t even get to him,” Felder said, adding, “He’s one step from God.”

The Supreme Court agrees. Led by Chief Justice John Roberts, a majority recently ruled that a president has absolute immunity for criminal prosecution for official acts. In a scathing dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote, “The President is now a king above the law.”

Melania should be afraid. If her husband wins and decides he wants revenge for her lackadaisical campaigning, she’d better hope for a divorce. Because the Anne Boleyn option is a lot sharper.

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