Melania Trump Slims Down First Lady’s Office Payroll from Michelle Obama’s Tenure

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 23: U.S. first lady Melania Trump smiles as she meets with Prince Harry for the first time while leading the USA team delegation ahead of the Invictus Games 2017 on September 23, 2017 in Toronto, Canada (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images for the Invictus Games Foundation …
Chris Jackson/Getty Images for the Invictus Games Foundation

Melania Trump is running a lean East Wing operation as she is seeking to trim the fat off the payroll of her predecessor, Michelle Obama.

Fox News reports Melania has slimmed down the number of aides on her payroll compared to Michelle Obama’s East Wing operation, who employed 16 people in her office during former President Barack Obama’s first year as commander-in-chief at the cost of $1.24 million a year.

In contrast, only four people were listed on Melania Trump’s payroll as of June, with salaries totaling $486,700, according to the White House’s annual staffing report to Congress.

The report lists the names, positions, and salaries of all White House staff. Both Obama and Trump administrations noted that they employed a few additional staffers with the title “first lady” not listed in the report. After taking into account those staffers, however, Melania’s payroll is still smaller than her predecessor — nine people are employed with the East Wing in the Trump administration, while the Obama administration East Wing employed 24 people.

The first lady’s spokesperson confirmed that Melania’s approach to staffing is intentional.

“As with all things that she does, she is being very deliberate in her hiring, focusing on quality over quantity,” communications director Stephanie Grisham told Fox News in an email. “It is important to her that the team is a good fit for what she wants to accomplish as first lady, and that everyone works well together. She also wants to be mindful and responsible when it comes to taxpayer money.”

The 2009 White House staffing report listed 16 employees on the first lady’s payroll during the Obama administration, but Michelle Obama’s press secretary confirmed at the time that she employed 24 people in the East Wing.

Grisham said that the East Wing under Melania employs nine staffers, including a chief of staff, a communications director, a deputy chief of staff, and a deputy director of advance.

Michelle Obama’s office, on the other hand, employed additional staff such as multiple press aides, a policy director, a personal aide, a correspondence director, and a traveling aide.

The first lady’s office is not the only part of the White House where the Trump administration has streamlined its staffing. Forbes reports that the Trump administration employed 110 fewer employees than the Obama administration and projected that the Trump administration would save $22 million with the reduction in staff.


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