The 80 or so staff who received the type written notes were under the assumption the first lady had written them herself. Instead, Trump tasked a lower-level East Wing staffer with writing them “in her voice,” and she signed her name.
Several sources familiar with Trump’s activities, or lack thereof in recent weeks, have described the first lady as being “checked out,” that she “just wants to go home,” and is “not sad to be leaving” Washington and the White House.
One of the sources discussing the “thank you” notes with CNN said it is customary for first ladies — and occasionally presidents as well — to write cards or short letters of gratitude to members of household staff, especially the ones whom they get to know extremely well. Much of the correspondence includes personal anecdotes and the letters become “cherished keepsakes” for the residence staff, says the source.
The butlers, cooks, housekeepers, ushers and maintenance workers do not typically turn over with each administration and many have been working at the White House for a decade or more.
At 47%, more people have an unfavorable view of the first lady now than at any point since CNN first asked about views of her in February 2016. The poll, conducted by SSRS for CNN, puts Trump’s favorable rating at 42%, with 12% of those asked answering they are unsure of their feelings about the first lady.
Trump’s highest favorable rating was in May 2018 at 57% according to a CNN poll taken at the time, which came on the heels of the first state dinner and Trump’s attendance at the Texas funeral of the late first lady Barbara Bush. The first lady went to the funeral without President Donald Trump.
The first lady has spent the weeks since the presidential election in relative silence, participating in only five public events since November 3, including the turkey pardon, the arrival of the White House Christmas tree, a Georgia political rally, the annual Toys for Tots gift event and the story-reading at Children’s Hospital.
Events with her involving the White House Christmas decorations were not open to the press. CNN was also first to report Melania Trump has overseeing the packing and shipping of her belongings for the family’s departure from the White House for the two months.