Donald Trump tried to tell his wife where to sit at an inauguration event – and she completely ignored him and walked off.
The awkward moment came shortly before Trump claimed his cabinet picks have “the highest IQ of any cabinet ever assembled” today at a luncheon kicking off his inauguration.
He made the comments, which are without basis, to Republican party leaders at an event at the Trump Hotel in Washington DC.
There have also been questions about whether foreign dignitaries staying at the hotel would constitute a breach of the US constitutions emoluments clause, which bans office holders gaining profits from overseas.
He began his remarks by thanking his wife, Melania, who he said had “put up with so much with all the fake news. Fake news, that’s what it is.”
Trump invited Melania to speak, and she violently shook her head.
But the President elect insisted, and she reluctantly approached the lectern and thanked the room for their support.
There followed an awkward moment when Mrs Trump left the stage. Her husband motioned for her to sit on the front row.
But despite Trump calling down from the stage telling her where to sit, she walked past the stage, through the group of family and staff to the side and out of sight.
Trump said: “I guess she didn’t want to sit with you, Phil. Honey, sit right here. Oh, right.”
He joked: “She believes in barriers, we don’t.”
Trump described Attorney General pick Jeff Sessions, who faced accusations of racism during his confirmation hearings last week, as “a great guy. He will be one of the outstanding stars of this country and he is legit all the way.”
Of Secretary designate of Health and Human Services Tom Price’s rocky confirmation hearing, he said: “They wanted to end his career so fast – but then they found out “hey, he’s smart.”
In recent days Price has faced calls for an investigation into his investments in healthcare stocks while he was an influential voice in congress on health issues.
Introducing Education Secretary designate Betsy DeVos, who has been accused of trying to undermine public schools by funnelling federal cash to the private sector, Trump joked: “It’s a very easy subject, education. We have a slightly different approach, which is that we want our children educated.”
Trump’s luxury DC hotel is in the city’s old post office building, which is still owned by the Federal Government.
The legitimacy of Trump’s lease on the property, which opened the month before November’s general election, have been called into question, after it emerged the terms prohibit office holders of being involved.