Melania Trump’s hat auction has even those who know her scratching their heads

She always viewed the role differently than most of her recent predecessors. Resistant to public speaking, she rarely made trips, did not actively campaign, and on occasion, expressed views or ideas juxtaposed to those of her husband, former President Donald Trump. Now her high-priced opening bid is recalling her same preoccupation with doing what she wants instead of concerning herself with the American public, and it’s opening the former first lady up to renewed criticism.

“(Selling her hat) lends credence to the notion that the Trumps were always shameless about making money and that Melania keeps proving that she is a Trump through and through,” said Kate Andersen Brower, a CNN contributor and author of “First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies.”

The notion Trump is out for her own personal gain, at the expense of tradition and respect for her former role, was echoed several times by the 10 people CNN spoke to for this story, including several former Trump administration officials. CNN reached out to Melania Trump for comment and did not receive a response.

In addition to the hat, Trump has included a watercolor of her face in profile, wearing the hat — what her website calls “The Head of State Collection” — and a non-fungible-token (NFT) of the watercolor, with some animation. An NFT is a digital collectible authenticated by the blockchain that is often a piece of digital art. The NFT is the second one featuring herself. The first, a watercolor of her eyes, was put up for sale for a limited time, ending December 31. Bidding on the current auction — with the hat, the watercolor and the NFT — closes January 25, according to Trump’s website.
Then-first lady Melania Trump waits with then-President Donald Trump to greet French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron during a State Arrival Ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in 2018.

All of the items Trump is selling can only be purchased via cryptocurrency. Her move towards NFT, mostly a trendy B-list celebrity genre money-grab, was questionable in terms of a post-first lady business, but it is the selling of an item she wore to an official White House event that has those who know her scratching their heads.

“What’s next? The jacket?” one former close friend of Trump’s, who spoke to CNN under the condition of anonymity in order to speak freely without retribution, said. The person was referring to the “I really don’t care. Do u?” jacket Trump wore in June 2018 on her trip to Texas to visit facilities holding detained families who had crossed into the United States.

“It is not okay,” said another person who worked in a senior position in the Trump White House. “It’s unseemly. She is trying to build herself a nest-egg of cash built upon a role that the American people elected her husband for her to inhabit.”

Yet another person, a friend of Trump’s for many years before and during her White House tenure, was hesitant to criticize the former first lady, but this person did question why Trump has not stated clearly whether the bulk of the money will go to charity and not directly into her pocket. “If she is going to do this, sell her personal things, she has to publicly disclose the financials,” said this person, who is no longer close with Trump.

A small paragraph on the page of Trump’s new website mentions her intent to put at least some of the…

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