Republican David Jolly, a former member of congress from Florida, spoke on MSNBC Thursday about something that has a lot of people talking: First Lady Melania Trump and that jacket.
By now, anyone on social media has seen images of the coat the FLOTUS chose to wear during part of her trip to visit children separated from their families and detained under her husband’s zero tolerance policy.
In May, President Donald Trump had Attorney General Jeff Sessions enact the policy change, treating all people entering the United States without prior authorization as criminals to be prosecuted for the misdemeanor crime in criminal court. Asylum seekers, families with children, and unaccompanied minors often were sent to civil immigration court in the past instead of criminal court, under the discretionary powers of federal prosecutors.
The new Trump policy removed that discretionary privilege from the Justice Department. Now viewed as criminals, asylum seekers and families were remanded to federal jail awaiting criminal prosecution. As such, all minor children were taken into federal custody away from their families.
After separating over 2,300 children including infants from their families, Trump signed an executive order to keep the families together while federal prosecutors proceed with criminal prosecutions for all. The concentration camps set up for the children in preparation for the overflow will now house families.
The executive order came after international outcry over the callousness of the zero tolerance policy and heavy public criticism for its heartlessness. And the FLOTUS’ fashion choice for her site visit with affected children did not help the Trump family image at all.
— Tim Mak (@timkmak) June 21, 2018
As soon as the first photos of Mrs. Trump boarding her plane to head to Texas, wearing a Zara jacket featuring “I REALLY DON’T CARE DO U?” on the back, emerged online, public outcry began. Before the first lady even finished her Texas visit, news media around the world had picked up the story.
Mrs. Trump’s office stated there was no message to the jacket and it was dismissed as an unfortunate oversight by some. But then when the FLOTUS deplaned in Washington DC, she donned the jacket again in view of photographers and onlookers.
And Jolly called her on it. Once can be a fashion faux pas, but twice is a deliberate choice.
“This was an unforgivable moment for the first lady and the first family,” Jolly stated on MSNBC. “Not just because of what happened in the initial moment where, ‘Wow, did she wear this?’ and there was intrigue. And, frankly, I was one who dismissed it the first time we saw it, as she was departing.”
But to wear it on her return affirmed that this was a political message. This was not a fashion statement. This was a political message where she said ‘I don’t care’.”
“And I don’t care, personally as David Jolly, how the White House tries to manipulate this,” he continued.
She was going to the border, where her husband has ripped families apart, wearing a jacket that said ‘I don’t care’.”
It is an unforgivable moment for Melania as the first lady, but also for the president of the United States, and she does not deserve latitude on this because she doubled-down on it after questions were asked.”
Jolly did a bit of doubling-down of his own on social media where he reaffirmed his stance on Twitter.
I stand by this. When a fashion statement becomes a political statement it is a fair moment for question and criticism.
— David Jolly (@DavidJollyFL) June 22, 2018
One Twitter user asked a question many others have and Jolly answered.
David, can you think of any First lady before and possibly including Michelle Obama that ever wore any piece of clothing with any words on it?
— John Wilson (@thejohnwilson) June 22, 2018
None. She was traveling in an official capacity on a WH plane to a federally supported facility. Suppose the President or a Cabinet Member had worn the same. This is not a moment to dismiss. It need not be the defining moment of this crisis, but it is fully worthy of questioning.
— David Jolly (@DavidJollyFL) June 22, 2018
It won’t be the defining moment of this crisis, but is the defining moment of her role as FLOTUS. She’s leaving no doubt she is as petty, thoughtless & cruel as he is.
A PR trip to pretend she cares, while literally wearing a jacket saying she doesn’t. The worst possible irony.
— Carolyn H (@CarolynSMeier) June 22, 2018
Meanwhile President Donald Trump took to his own Twitter account claiming the jacket was a message, despite Melania Trump’s spokesperson saying there was no message at all.
“I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?” written on the back of Melania’s jacket, refers to the Fake News Media. Melania has learned how dishonest they are, and she truly no longer cares!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 21, 2018