WASHINGTON (AFP) – United States (US) First Lady Melania Trump on Wednesday publicly rebuked a scholar who used her 13-year-old son’s name to make a point during a hearing as part of the impeachment inquiry into the President.
Constitutional law professor Pamela Karlan invoked Barron Trump, the son of Donald and Melania Trump, to demonstrate how the Constitution imposes distinctions between a monarch’s power and that of a President.
“The constitution said there can be no titles of nobility,” Karlan told lawmakers during the House Judiciary Committee’s first hearing on impeachment, which featured four constitutional scholars.
“So while the President can name his son ‘Barron,’ he can’t make him a baron.”
The pun led to chuckles in the congressional hearing room, but Melania Trump made clear it was no laughing matter.
“A minor child deserves privacy and should be kept out of politics,” the first lady tweeted shortly afterwards.
“Pamela Karlan, you should be ashamed of your very angry and obviously biased public pandering, and using a child to do it.”
President Trump retweeted his wife’s message to his 67 million followers. As the row snowballed, Karlan quickly tried to stem the damage by expressing her regret.
“I want to apologise for what I said earlier about the president’s son,” she told the panel.
“It was wrong of me to do that” she said, before adding that she also wished “the President would apologise, obviously, for the things that he’s done that’s wrong.”
For years, members of both political parties have agreed that the minor children of US politicians, particularly presidents, are off limits.
During the hearing, Republican congressman Matt Gaetz snapped at Karlan, telling her that invoking Trump’s son “does not lend credibility to your argument. It makes you look mean.”
The incident quickly brought an onslaught of criticism from corners far beyond the hearing room, as Republicans and members of Trump’s re-election campaign voiced grave disapproval.