A video clip purportedly showing Melania Trump forcing a smile as she talked to Donald Trump during his inauguration ceremony, only to revert to a frown after he turned around, was widely circulated on social media after that event. The video clip was typically accompanied by a variety of messages claiming that Donald Trump had said something mean to her or pleas urging the First Lady to “run” from her husband. For instance, on 23 January 2017, the Facebook page “Blast Avenue” shared the video with the message: “Omg what did he say to her???? RUN MELANIA!!!!”:
Although some social media users claimed that the video was playing backward and that Trump had actually blown a kiss to his wife in an attempt to make her smile, this footage does not appear to have been altered.
The moment captured above occurred during Reverend Franklin Graham’s prayer at the inauguration ceremony and can be glimpsed at the 2:52:05 mark of the following longer video segment:
Although the video clip is authentic, claims that it captures Donald Trump speaking harshly to Melania are merely conjecture. There is no way to tell what Trump said to his wife (not even through lip reading, since his back was turned to the camera), nor has Melania offered an explanation as to why she reacted the way she did.
From a different angle (seen at the 1:21 mark in the video below), it looks as though Trump’s remark might have been addressed not to his wife, but to his son Barron, who was talking and fidgeting behind him:
It’s possible that Melania was simply weighing the importance of her new role, that she was unhappy about standing in the rain, that she was reacting to her son’s behavior, or that her change of expression was due to something unrelated to the inauguration or her husband’s comments.