After Weeks of Press Speculation and 'Rough Patch,' Melania Returns to Public Role

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WASHINGTON (AP) — There she was, outside the White House walls.

First lady Melania Trump re-emerged Wednesday shoulder-to-shoulder with her husband, President Donald Trump, at the head of a conference table at the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Washington.

“She had a little rough patch, but she’s doing great,” the president said at the top of a meeting on hurricane readiness.

“We’re very proud of her, she’s done a fantastic job as first lady,” he added.

“People love you. The people of our country love you. Thank you, honey.”

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The appearance was her first outside the White House since May 10.

In the interim, the first lady underwent a kidney procedure and recuperated in the hospital for five days, according to the White House.

But there was no explanation of why she remained out of the public eye for weeks longer.

Her husband complained earlier Wednesday that speculation in the media has been “so unfair, and vicious.”

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Trump tweeted Wednesday that during his wife’s recovery, “they reported everything from near death, to facelift, to left the W.H. (and me) for N.Y. or Virginia, to abuse.”

He added: “All Fake, she is doing really well!”

On Monday, the first lady strolled into a White House event Monday for military families and swept away the wild speculation that she was incapacitated or had otherwise vanished.

The White House did not allow journalists to cover the Gold Star event out of respect for the families, which meant Melania Trump was seen in person only by the 40 or so families and administration officials who attended.

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Others had to keep an eye on social media.

Video posted on Twitter showed the first lady, who wore a black sleeveless dress and her trademark stilettos, strolling into the East Room accompanied by the president.

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