Fact Check

Did Melania Trump Hire an Exorcist to Cleanse the White House of Obama 'Demons'?

According to the first lady's spokesperson, widely shared reports that she demanded a White House exorcism are "not true in any way."

Published Feb 22, 2018

 (Michael Candelori / Shutterstock.com)
Image Via Michael Candelori / Shutterstock.com
First lady Melania Trump demanded that the White House be exorcised of "demonic idols and images" allegedly left there by the Obamas before she would enter it.

In early February 2018, the untrustworthy website YourNewsWire and a number of other questionable sources posted a report alleging that first lady Melania Trump had demanded that the White House be exorcised to cleanse it of "Obama demons" before she would set foot in it:

First Lady Melania Trump demanded the White House undergo a complete exorcism, with “pagan idols and demonic artifacts” from “the Clinton and Obama years” removed from the premises before she would set foot in the building, according to White House pastor Paul Begley.

“I’m not going to go into that White House unless it has been completely exorcised,” Melania Trump told Pastor Begley.

“They cleansed the White House,” the pastor said. “They had people in there anointing it with oil and praying everywhere.”

After the First Lady had finished removing pagan and demonic items, only one thing was left — a cross on the wall. The White House is now free of all pagan gods and idols, and contains only Christian iconography.

The article was based on an interview with evangelical Pastor Paul Begley (who is not, in any sense we could verify, a "White House pastor"), who told Internet radio host Sheila Zilinsky that a literal "exorcism" was conducted in the White House between the time the Obamas left the building and the time the Trumps entered it on Inauguration Day 2017:

Conservative website CNSNews also repeated Begley's remarks at length, though they took the additional step of quizzing the pastor on his source(s), which he refused to reveal:

CNSNews.com contacted Pastor Paul Begley and asked for more information about the spiritual cleansing. Begley said his source for the story was close to "those working in the White House" and requested that he (or she) not be named.

In an email to CNSNews.com, Pastor Begley said, " I was not there, but a close source to those working in the White House revealed to me that the 'Spiritual Cleaning' did take place before the First Lady would feel comfortable living at the White House. All religious artifacts from former administrations were removed except for 1 cross on 1 wall in the White House. Also Prayer Meetings were established in the White House for prayer and devotions. I was requested to (not reveal my source)."

Far from expressing skepticism about the preacher's claims, however, CNSNews quoted a 2010 Washington Post article about Bill and Hillary Clinton's trips to Haiti to corroborate Begley's assertion that "there were all kinds of idol gods and images and all kinds of artifacts in there that were demonic, even some of the stuff from the Clinton era because they were really tied in with the Haitians."

What the Post article actually said was:

The Clintons' enthrallment has lasted for more than 30 years. They decorated their homes with Haitian art.

As to the Obamas, we've seen no credible reports to the effect that they kept any sort of "demonic" artifacts in the White House.

In any case, the absurd allegation that a White House exorcism took place was debunked on 10 February by Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for Melania Trump, who told The Associated Press that it was "not true in any way."


Chapman, Michael W.  "Pastor Begley: Melania Trump Demanded Spiritual Cleansing of White House, Removal of Pagan, Demonic Idols."   CNSNews.  February 2018.

Rucker, Philip.  "Haiti Holds a Special Place in the Hearts of Bill and Hillary Clinton."   The Washington Post.  16 January 2010.

Associated Press.  "First Lady Did Not Hire Exorcist for White House."   10 February 2018.

David Emery is a West Coast-based writer and editor with 25 years of experience fact-checking rumors, hoaxes, and contemporary legends.