More Trump Myths: Campaign Claims Melania Has a College Degree, But She Dropped Out Early

Republicans have made a concerted effort to present Melania Trump as more than just an ex-model who married a billionaire and hawked cheap jewelry on QVC. This has included a lot of talk about how incredibly smart she is, and promises that her genius IQ will be revealed as she becomes more familiar to the public.

She’s “not just an arm piece,” Roger Stone, a longtime political shyster and Trump adviser, told the Washington Post last year. “Melania Trump is a very smart, articulate woman,” Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager who was fired in June, told the Chicago Tribune. “She’s beautiful, she’s intelligent, she’s submissive to her husband,” a Louisiana Trump supporter named Carol Thomas unironically told Politico reporter Julia Ioffe on the first day of the RNC. “She has a very anointed message for women.”

For the campaign’s part, crafting Melania Trump’s image has meant painting her as beautiful, worldly and brainy to boot. On her website, a lengthy bio states that she became a full-time model only once she’d dispensed with her university studies. “After obtaining a degree in design and architecture at University in Slovenia,” the website states, “Melania was jetting between photo shoots in Paris and Milan.” The 2016 RNC convention program quotes the same passage about Melania earning her “degree.” But that’s not exactly, or even sort of true, according to numerous sources.

The Huffington Post points to the book Melania Trump: The Inside Story: From a Slovenian Communist Village to the White House, by authors Bojan Pozar and Igor Omerza, which indicates the FLOTUS contender dropped out of college after her freshman year. The two Slovenian journalists write that Melania “became―and remained―a college dropout” just one year into her time at the University of Ljubljana. HuffPo quotes relevant sections from the book:

In her freshman year, the 19-year old Melanija Knavs attended lectures on the following subjects: elements of architecture, fine arts, fundamentals of technical mechanics, architectural construction, descriptive geometry, mathematics, and an ideological (read “communist”) elective credit called “General Partisan Resistance and Social Self-protection.” Melanija would have made it to her sophomore year, even having failed two exams, but she was supposed to have gotten and held a one-month internship and kept a journal about it.....

Later, in America, after meeting Donald Trump and officially becoming his partner, Melania Knauss told the media that she got her degree in architecture and design. This was almost certainly done in consultation with Trump and his advisers, as they were desperate to give off the impression that the Slovenian model was not just beautiful, but also smart and well-educated.

Julia Ioffe, who profiled Melania earlier this year for GQ and a few times since, also notes that Trump’s wife spent only a year in college. (Ioffe received a barrage of antisemitic messages from Trump supporters upset by revelations in the article. Melania, for her part, said that Ioffe “provoked” the attacks.) “RNC notes say Melania Trump received degree in design. False,” Ioffe tweeted a few days ago. “She dropped out after a year, but campaign keeps talking about her degree.”

HuffPo reached out to the Trump campaign for a response to the conflicting reports, but the candidate’s team declined to offer a response. The story might be less newsworthy had it not come on the heels of Melania’s speech on the inaugural night of the RNC, which lifted an entire paragraph from a speech Michelle Obama gave in 2008 at the Democratic convention. The Trump campaign, which has never let the truth throw a monkey wrench in its strategies, has blamed Hillary Clinton for the whole thing. 

Part of what’s so fascinating about this whole Melania meltdown is watching the Republican hypocrisy at the heart of it. Since the day Senator Barack Obama announced he planned to run for president in 2007, Republicans have bitterly criticized the current FLOTUS for a number of often made-up reasons. In a new Politico piece titled “Melania’s Fan Club,” journalist Ioffe spent the day talking with female Trump supporters at the RNC. She noted a consistent theme seemed to be “their loathing for the current first lady.”

“Michelle Obama came up constantly and unprompted, this poorly dressed, inelegant, aggressive presence who would be neutralized by Melania’s ‘grace’ and ‘poise’ and ‘intelligence’ on Pennsylvania Avenue,” Ioffe wrote.

Michelle Obama, who really did attend Princeton and Harvard Law, who worked as a public servant and in academia, has been a target of Republican ire since day one. Melania, who plagiarizes Michelle Obama (either she stole the words herself or is the victim of a lazy Trump staffer) and lies about completing college, is effusively praised. No one ever called the Trump base honest, or “not rife with racists and antisemites,” but it’s fairly amazing to see it so transparently expressed.

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