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Don't fight, Ivana and Melania

By Helena Andrews-Dyer and Emily Heil, Washington Post
FILE - In this May 9, 2016 file photo, Ivana Trump, ex-wife of President Donald Trump, attends the Fashion Institute of Technology Annual Gala benefit in New York. First lady Melania Trump is pushing back at Donald Trump's first wife for referring to herself as first lady. (Photo by Michael Zorn/Invision/AP, File)

Things are getting a little Real Housewives around the White House.

In one of the stranger sideshows to his presidency, President Donald Trump's first and third wives, Ivana and Melania, respectively, on Monday had a very public war of words — and his second wife, Marla Maples, is getting some shade out of the spat, to boot.

Here's a breakdown: To promote her new book, Raising Trump, about parenting Trump's three eldest children, Ivana Trump gave a Monday interview to Good Morning America in which she made some comments sure to privately raise the hackles of the woman currently occupying the role of Wife of Donald.

"I'm basically first Trump wife. Okay?" Ivana Trump said. "I'm first lady."

She offered faux sympathy for Melania, saying "I think for her to be in Washington must be terrible." (She had less subtle insults for her ex's second wife, Marla Maples. "A showgirl" was her epithet of choice.)

Instead of letting it ride, Melania Trump took a page out of her husband's playbook, the one that famously decrees he hit back harder at anyone who takes a swing. Her spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, dispatched a crisp response dismissing Ivana's remarks as "attention seeking" from someone who just wants to sell books and making clear that Melania Trump does not, in fact, hate her Washington life.

"Mrs. Trump has made the White House a home for Barron and the President. She loves living in Washington, DC and is honored by her role as First Lady of the United States. She plans to use her title and role to help children, not sell books."

And the coda is the real clap-back: "There is clearly no substance to this statement from an ex, this is unfortunately only attention-seeking and self-serving noise."

This all started innocently enough. Ivana Trump has a book to promote. Her new memoir drops today and she's doing a publicity blitz. In the midst of that storm, Trump revealed that she has a direct line to the White House and her ex-husband, but she doesn't use it lest the current Mrs. Trump get the wrong idea.

"I [don't] really want to call him there, because Melania is there. And I don't want to cause any kind of jealousy or something like that," she said.

Okay!

But she feels for Melania Trump, she really does.

"It's better her than me," Ivana Trump said. "I would hate Washington."

Hating Washington, however, does not preclude her ability to rule it with an iron fist, if she had the inclination, the former Mrs. Trump made sure to note.

"Would I straighten up the White House in 14 days? Absolutely. Can I give the speech for 45 minutes without [a] teleprompter? Absolutely. Can I read a contract? Can I negotiate? Can I entertain? Absolutely. But I would not really like to be there. I like my freedom," Ivana Trump said.