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First lady Melania Trump breaks her silence on Capitol riot, then hits back at her critics

Former US First Lady Melania Trump attends the Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention (FPBP) Cyberbullying Prevention Summit at the US Health Resources and Services Administration building in Rockville, Maryland, August 20, 2018, as part of her "Be Best" campaign. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNN) — First lady Melania Trump has broken her silence on the Capitol insurrection incited by her husband in a letter posted on the White House website early Monday morning in which she lashes out at her critics and then condemns the violence.

“I am disappointed and disheartened with what happened last week,” the first lady, whose “Be Best” platform centers on civility and kindness, said in the post.

The post marks Trump’s first public statement since her husband incited mobs of supporters to storm the US Capitol. During the attack, she was overseeing a photo shoot at the White House featuring “rugs and other items,” per a person familiar.

Trump went on to hit back against criticism launched at herself, casting herself as a victim amid an unprecedented attack on democracy.

“I find it shameful that surrounding these tragic events there has been salacious gossip, unwarranted personal attacks, and false misleading accusations on me — from people who are looking to be relevant and have an agenda. This time is solely about healing our country and its citizens. It should not be used for personal gain,” she said.

Trump then condemned the events of last week: “Make no mistake about it, I absolutely condemn the violence that has occurred on our Nation’s Capitol. Violence is never acceptable,” she wrote.

The first lady expressed condolences to the four Trump supporters killed during the attacks before going on to recognize the US Capitol Police officers who died in the line of duty.

“Most recently, my heart goes out to: Air Force Veteran, Ashli Babbit, Benjamin Philips, Kevin Greeson, Rosanne Boyland, and Capitol Police Officers, Brian Sicknick and Howard Liebengood. I pray for their families comfort and strength during this difficult time,” she said.

While images of the mob breaking into the Capitol consumed the airwaves, the first lady was focused — with the White House chief usher, Timothy Harleth — on getting the shoot completed. Both the media, including CNN, and members of her staff were asking if Trump had plans to tweet a statement of calm, or a call to stop the violence — something she had done a handful of times months earlier during the protests surrounding the police killing of George Floyd. She did not.

Her disinterest in addressing the country was indicative of being “checked out,” said another White House source, who added, “she just isn’t in a place mentally or emotionally anymore where she wants to get involved.”

Later Wednesday evening, two of the first lady’s top aides, chief of staff Stephanie Grisham — who also served as Trump’s closest adviser, speechwriter and spokesperson — and Anna Cristina “Rickie” Niceta, White House social secretary, submitted their resignations effective immediately. CNN confirmed both Grisham and Niceta quit their jobs in large part because of Wednesday’s events.

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