Donald Trump, 73, appeared to tell First Lady Melania Trump, 50, to smile when she looked serious during a photo op at Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington D.C. on June 2, one day after he visited St. John’s Episcopal Church to hold up a bible after his speech about the national protests that have been going against criminal injustice this past week. In video footage of the moment, Trump can be seen smiling while posing for the photo before he stops to briefly say something to his wife, which prompted her to quickly smile. He then continues to smile before they finish posing and both walk away from the cameras.
Trump asks Melania to smile during today's photo op. pic.twitter.com/B59YeDHKRM
— The Recount (@therecount) June 2, 2020
This isn’t the first time Melania has made headlines for looking upset during a public appearance with her husband but it certainly got the attention of many viewers after the clip quickly made its way around social media. Many social media users questioned the reasons behind Melania’s serious face and discussed Trump’s happy mood during the appearance.
Despite what looked like a happy moment for Trump, his visit to the shrine on Tuesday angered church officials. Archbishop Wilton Gregory, the highest-ranking African-American bishop in the United States, released a statement shortly after the visit. “I find it baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles, which call us to defend the rights of all people even those with whom we might disagree,” he said.
The archbishop’s statement is the second public statement condemning Trump’s use of churches for photo ops by a religious official in the past 24 hours. The Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese, Mariann Edgar Budde, whose diocese oversees St. John’s, where Trump visited on June 1, said she was “outraged” after Trump had peaceful protesters in D.C. forcefully removed so he could pose with a bible in front of the place of worship. He “used a bible and church of my diocese without permission as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus,” she told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in an interview.
Trump’s visits to the churches came after he spoke out against “rioters” who have been violent during protests that have been going on across the nation to demand justice for the tragic death of African-American man George Floyd in Minneapolis. He threatened to use the American military to stop the violence if leaders in cities and states couldn’t control the protesters. His remarks came after thousands were injured after being hit by rubber bullets, tear gas, and pepper spray by federal police during the demonstrations.