President Trump cracked an 'awkward' joke about Melania: 'Did she leave him?'

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The White House announced May 14 that she had been hospitalized to treat a kidney condition described as benign.

In an official statement issued Monday night, the first lady addressed the event: "It was a privilege to welcome Gold Star Families to the White House today to recognize our Nation's fallen heroes and their families".

The fact she has not been seen in public for more than 24 days has led to questions over whether there is something more going on than recovery from a routine procedure, with weird rumors including that she has been living with the Obamas, that she is secretly back in NY, and that she is writing a tell-all book about her husband.

On May 10, the first couple welcomed home American hostages from North Korea.

Melania Trump has not made a public appearance since a five-day hospital stay in mid-May following surgery for a kidney condition.

And though she has publicly resurfaced, Trump is still avoiding the full glare of the media spotlight. The riff was playful, but a bit awkward considering the event was to honor Gold Star families, who have lost loved ones at war.

Trump said he didn't want to use the term "maximum pressure" any more, because the two sides were "getting along".

CNBC reporter Eamon Javers tweeted last week he had seen the first lady walking with her aides in the West Wing.

During a segment on CNN the same day, the host and guests claimed the First Lady is "missing", despite journalists saying they've seen her in recent days.

Melania Trump herself had addressed the conjecture, tweeting on May 30 that "the media is working overtime speculating where I am & what I'm doing".

The President also talked about the strong economy during the event, the person inside the room said.

"Conspiracy theorists discuss the first lady's absence".

Several 19th century first ladies spent long periods out of view. "I can't imagine a previous first lady disappearing for 24 days without some level of concern".

Three unnamed current and former White House officials told CNN that another Hagin catchphrase is "this would never happen in the Bush administration", often served up with an eye roll for emphasis. She has not been seen in public since May 10th.

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