First Lady Melania Trump issued a rare statement about her 13-year-old son, Barron, after a Stanford law professor made a reference to him during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on whether to impeach President Donald Trump.
“While the president can name his son Barron, he can’t make him a baron,” professor Pamela Karlan said during the hearing, which drew rebuke from Republican lawmakers and the White House.
The first lady wrote on Twitter on Wednesday that her son deserves privacy.
“A minor child deserves privacy and should be kept out of politics. Pamela Karlan, you should be ashamed of your very angry and obviously biased public pandering, and using a child to do it,” Melania wrote.
A minor child deserves privacy and should be kept out of politics. Pamela Karlan, you should be ashamed of your very angry and obviously biased public pandering, and using a child to do it.
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) December 4, 2019
Karlan was joined at the hearing on Wednesday by Noah Feldman of Harvard University, Michael Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina, and Jonathan Turley of George Washington University.
The three law professors chosen by the Democrats made clear that they believed Trump’s actions were impeachable offenses including abuse of power, bribery, obstruction of Congress, and obstruction of justice. But Turley, the law professor selected by Trump’s fellow Republicans, disagreed with their assertions and said the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry was “rushed” and lacked testimony from people with direct knowledge, adding that current evidence does not show Trump committed “a clear criminal act.”
Later in the day, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) criticized Karlan’s words about Barron.
“When you invoke the president’s son’s name here, when you try to make a little joke referencing Barron Trump, that does not lend credibility to your argument. That makes you look mean,” he told her during the hearing.
The hearing was the committee’s first to examine whether Trump’s actions qualify as “high crimes and misdemeanors” punishable by impeachment under the U.S. Constitution. The panel would draft any articles of impeachment—formal charges—against Trump. If the House approves such charges, the Senate will then hold a trial on whether to remove Trump from office.
Following Trump’s inauguration in early 2017, some celebrities made jokes at then-10-year-old Barron’s expense. Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, went on social media at the time to defend the boy.
“Barron Trump deserves the chance every child does—to be a kid. Standing up for every kid also means opposing POTUS policies that hurt kids,” she tweeted.