Melania Trump denies working unlawfully as model in US on improper visa

The New York Post published naked photos taken of Donald Trump’s wife in 1995, a year before she emigrated to the US, according to previous statements

Melania Trump said on Thursday she did not work illegally in the US in the mid-1990s, after pictures from a naked photoshoot that were published on the front page of the New York Post raised questions about her immigration status.

In a statement posted on her Twitter account, the Slovenian-born wife of the Republican presidential candidate said: “There has been a lot of inaccurate reporting and misinformation concerning my immigration status back in 1996.”

According to the Post, the photoshoot in question took place in 1995. On Thursday, a report by Politico questioned whether Trump worked as a model in the US in 1995 without proper work authorization.

“Let me set the record straight,” Trump continued. “I have at all times been in full compliance with the immigration laws of this country. Period. Any allegation to the contrary is simply untrue.”

Donald Trump has made immigration a central part of his campaign for the White House, promising to deport all undocumented immigrants and to build a wall between the US and Mexico.

With further irony, the pictures appeared in print and on social media in the week in which Donald Trump signed up to the Children’s Internet Safety Presidential Pledge, a campaign to curb internet pornography.

Melania Trump
The New York Post’s Melania Trump cover, as tweeted. Photograph: Twitter

On Sunday and Monday this week, the Post ran cover photos of a naked Trump, one with the headline “The Ogle Office” and the other – which showed another nude model – as “Menage a Trump.”

Jarl Alé de Basseville, the French photographer who took the pictures, told the Post the shoot took place in 1995, over two days in Chelsea, in New York City. Trump was then 25 and known as Melania Knauss, and had previously modeled in Paris and Milan. The pictures appeared in the January 1996 issue of Max, a now-defunct French men’s magazine.

As Politico pointed out, the reported date of the shoot does not match up with Trump’s public statements about her arrival in the US. Trump has always said in interviews that she came to New York in 1996; Politico notes that her own website did so too, before it was taken down last week. During her speech at the 2016 Republican national convention in Cleveland, Trump told the crowd: “I arrived in New York City 20 years ago.”

Melania Trump is often used by her husband’s campaign as an example of the “right” way to immigrate, in comparison with undocumented immigrants.

“I follow the law,” she told MSNBC’s Morning Joe in February. “I follow a law the way it’s supposed to be. I never thought to stay here without papers. I had visa. I travel every few months back to the country, to Slovenia, to stamp the visa. I came back. I applied for the green card. I applied for the citizenship later on after many years of green card. So I went by system. I went by the law, and you should do that.”

Politico also questioned which visa might have given Trump work rights but also required her to get it renewed regularly in Slovenia. Most work visas – such as the H-1B, a program Donald Trump has criticized – last for several years and do not require renewal. Those that do, such as tourist or business visitor visas, do not give work authorization.

On Thursday, Melania Trump’s statement concluded: “In July 2006, I proudly became a US citizen. Over the past 20 years, I have been fortunate to live, work and raise a family in this great nation and I share my husband’s love for our country.”

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Amber Jamieson in New York

The GuardianTramp

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