CNN anchor Ashleigh Banfield asked the Trump campaign on Wednesday afternoon if Melania Trump would be a problematic first lady, given that she previously posed in “racy photograph spreads.”
Trump, a former model, became the topic du jour after MSNBC aired an exclusive interview with the wife of the Republican presidential frontrunner. In the interview, Trump discussed her husband’s proposed immigration policies, her family and career and how she advises her husband’s campaign.
After airing a clip of the interview, Banfield complimented Trump.
“There’s no question, Melania Knauss-Trump is a very bright woman, speaks several languages. She’s articulate. She’s lovely,” Banfield told campaign spokeswoman Katrina Pierson.
Then Banfield pivoted into a critique of Trump’s previous glamour shots as a centerfold. The most well-known shots are from the British edition of GQ Magazine in 2000, where Trump posed nude on her husband’s jet.
“But she also has done some pretty racy photo spreads in the past,” Banfield said. “I mean, Maxim magazine-styled racy photograph spreads. I think it’s hard to get your mind around the first lady living in the White House with those photographs out there.”
Trump’s step-daughter, Ivanka Trump, posed for the Germany edition of Maxim in May 2009.
The anchor then asked Pierson if those photos “present a problem at all for the campaign.”
“Not at all,” Pierson said. “As you just heard, she’s beautiful, she’s smart, she’s even funny, she’s an entrepreneur. She was a model. That was her career. We don’t feel bad about that at all. She is so strong as a woman.”
Pierson also suggested Trump could be “the beauty and the brains behind” her husband’s campaign. But Banfield continued to press her about Trump’s magazine spreads.
“They’ve taken crowns off of Miss Name-The-State or Miss America for racy pictures in the past,” Banfield said. “This is First Lady, this isn’t a beauty queen.”
The anchor was likely referring to actress and singer Vanessa Williams, who, after being the first black woman to be crowned Miss America, was forced to resign after nude photographs of her surfaced. The organization apologized to Williams more than 30 years later.
“She was a model in the past and I did mention that,” Pierson said. “We’re not concerned about that at all. She’ll make an amazing first lady.”