WASHINGTON • US First Lady Melania Trump has given no hint in public that she might be troubled by recent allegations from two women that they slept with her husband shortly after she had given birth to their son.
At an awards ceremony last Friday honouring non-US women for acts of courage, Mrs Trump spoke about courage - what it is and why the world needs it.
"It takes courage not only to see wrong, but strive to right it," she said in brief remarks before she passed out the awards at a State Department auditorium.
"Courage is what sets apart the heroes from the rest. It is equal parts bravery and nobility."
Mrs Trump's closely watched appearance came a day after CNN broadcast an interview with a former Playboy model who claims that she and Mr Donald Trump had an affair that began in 2006, just a few months after Mrs Trump gave birth to their son, Barron.
In the interview, Ms Karen McDougal apologised to Mrs Trump for the extramarital affair.
In the more than hour-long interview with host Anderson Cooper, Ms McDougal spoke about a relationship she says she had with Mr Trump in 2006 and 2007, choking up as she recounted the guilt she felt for being a party to the affair, during which she went with him to his family apartment at Trump Tower in New York City, going in through a back entrance.
She said she and Mr Trump, whom she met at the Playboy Mansion during filming of his reality TV show Celebrity Apprentice, had unprotected sex dozens of times during their relationship.
"When I look back to where I was back then, I know it's wrong," Ms McDougal said, choking back tears.
"I'm really sorry for that."
Asked if Mr Trump ever said he loved her, Ms McDougal said: "All the time. He always told me he loved me."
The White House has said that Mr Trump denies having an affair with Ms McDougal.
It was her first interview since suing American Media Inc (AMI), which owns The National Enquirer tabloid, last week to be released from an agreement giving it exclusive rights to her story about the alleged affair.
AMI bought the rights to her story three months before the 2016 presidential election but did not publish it.
The suit claims that her former lawyer, Mr Keith Davidson, worked secretly with AMI and Mr Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen as "part of a broad effort to silence and intimidate" her.
New Yorker magazine reported in February that Mr Trump had an affair with Ms McDougal at the same time that he was in a relationship with adult film star Stormy Daniels and The National Enquirer paid Ms McDougal US$150,000 (S$196,000) to prevent her story being made public.
Ms McDougal told CNN she was speaking publicly because, "I want to share my story because everybody else is talking about it".
Her first sexual encounter with Mr Trump, she said, was at his bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel and, afterwards, he offered her money.
"I looked at him and I said, 'That's not me. I'm not that kind of girl'," she said.
Ms McDougal also said she and Mr Trump spent time at a resort in Lake Tahoe, California, where Ms Daniels has also said she met Mr Trump.
Ms Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, sued the President on March 6, stating that Mr Trump never signed an agreement for her to keep quiet about an "intimate" relationship between them, which she said began in 2006 and lasted a year.
Ms Daniels got US$130,000 under that agreement. Mr Trump, through his representatives, has denied Ms Daniels' allegations.
Ms McDougal said she broke up with Mr Trump in April 2007. Asked by CNN what she would say to Mrs Trump, Ms McDougal said: "I'm sorry. I wouldn't want it done to me."
REUTERS, WASHINGTON POST