Posted on: 05/02/2016

The Model American

In July of 2002, two years before Donald Trump became engaged to the Slovenian model Melania Knauss, he visited her native country for three hours. The couple had been in London. At around 8 P.M. on a Monday night, they landed at Ljubljanas Brnik airport in Trumps Boeing 727. Viktor and Amalija Knavs - the former Melanijas parents; shed long ago changed her name - awaited them. The party, which included Trumps longtime executive assistant Norma Foerderer, proceeded directly to a pair of black Mercedeses. After a thirty-minute drive, they arrived at the Grand Hotel Toplice, a luxury property on Lake Bled. Entering the hotels restaurant through a side door, they were shown to a table with a view. Trump and Knauss sat on one side; the Knavses and Foerderer on the other, in what later became the manner of contestants on "The Apprentice." The restaurant had been cleared of patrons. Over virgin cocktails (Trump had a Coke Zero), onion escalope with pan-fried potatoes, and forest blueberries, Melania interpreted. Trump declined coffee. "Is this place for sale?" he asked his future father-in-law on the way out, according to the journalists Bojan Po�ar and Igor Omerza. He was back at the airport before midnight. Donald Trump, it is worth stating, is married to an immigrant. Should he be elected, Melania will become the first foreign-born First Lady since Louisa Adams, though Louisa Adams doesnt really count, as her father was an American, and from a politically connected family that hopped back and forth between England and its newly liberated colonies. As Louisa Thomas writes in her new biography of Mrs. Adams, "Americanness was forcefully impressed" upon her and her siblings. Her father named one of her sisters, born in 1776, Carolina Virginia Marylanda. The girls, seven of them, were told that they must marry Americans. Louisa Adams played the harp, wrote satirical dramas, and raised silkworms. (She also survived fourteen pregnancies, including nine miscarriages and a stillbirth.) Melania Trumps hobbies, she told People, include Pilates and reading magazines. She was born in Novo Mesto, in what was then Yugoslavia, in 1970, and raised in a Communist apartment block in Sevnica, a pretty riverside town where a smuggled Coke was a major treat. Later, according to her Web site, she was "jetting between photo shoots in Paris and Milan." She met Trump in 1998 at the Kit Kat Club in New York, at a party thrown by Paolo Zampolli, the owner of a modelling agency. Their courtship story is as chaste as its backdrop is louche: Donald saw Melania, Donald asked Melania for her number, but Donald had arrived with another woman-the Norwegian cosmetics heiress Celina Midelfart[so Melania refused. Donald persisted. Soon, they were falling in love at Moomba. They broke up for a time in 2000, when Donald toyed with the idea of running for President as a member of the Reform Party- "TRUMP KNIXES KNAUSS," the New York Post declared-but soon they were back together. Donald proposed to her on the night of the Costume Institute Gala in 2004, and now Melania, who once lived a quiet life in the Zeckendorf Towers, on Union Square, lives a quiet life in the Trump Tower, on Fifth Avenue. House rules require that guests don surgical booties, so as not to scuff the marble floors. Trumps mother was an immigrant, too, from Scotland; his first wife was born Ivana Zeln�čkov�, in Zl�n, Czechoslovakia. If hes as concerned as he says he is by all the "people that are from all over and theyre killers and rapists and theyre coming into this country," he might consider building a wall around his pants. He stresses that his family members were legal immigrants. Melania came to New York to work as a model. Through a quirk in immigration law, models, nearly half of them without high-school diplomas, are admitted on H-1B visas, as highly skilled workers, along with scientists and computer programmers, who are required to show proof of a college degree. "The H-1B program is neither high-skilled nor immigration: these are temporary foreign workers, imported from abroad, for the explicit purpose of substituting for American workers at lower pay," Trump said, in March, railing against "rampant, widespread H-1B abuse."