- Thomson Reuters
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump met with the wife of an imprisoned Venezuelan opposition leader in February and tried to sympathize with her husband’s plight by comparing life in the White House to that inside a Venezuelan prison, The Washington Post reported on Friday.
Lilian Tintori, who is married to the Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, was at the White House to discuss human rights in Venezuela.
Many view Lopez as a political prisoner sentenced to nearly 14 years in prison in 2015 on trumped-up charges related to a period of deadly antigovernment protests in 2014.
During the visit with Tintori, the president seemed unfamiliar with her and her experiences, The Post reported, though he reportedly knew enough to have “praised her past as a reality television star in Venezuela’s version of ‘Survivor.'”
Melania Trump said she sympathized with what Lopez had gone through in jail in Caracas, Venezuela, adding that the White House felt as confining as prison, two people familiar with the meeting told The Post. Donald Trump reportedly agreed.
The first lady’s spokeswoman denied that she made that comment, telling The Post that Trump “only offered words of encouragement and strength.”
After their meeting, the president gathered Tintori, Vice President Mike Pence, and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida for a photo, tweeting the final version with a call to release Lopez.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 15, 2017
Tintori was reportedly elated with the meeting and Trump’s condemnations of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government.
In the months since, Trump has leveled more sanctions on Venezuelan officials and businesses, imposed a travel ban on some Venezuelans and their families, and excoriated Maduro during an address to the UN General Assembly.