Michelle Obama has opened up about an awkward interaction she had with Melania Trump in the moments leading up to Donald Trump’s inauguration last year. As the incoming first couple arrived at the White House for tea ahead of the swearing-in, Melania was seen giving her predecessor as first lady a large Tiffany & Co. box — a gesture that appeared to prompt the first lady to give some major side-eye to news cameras. Speaking with Ellen Degeneres in her first television interview since leaving the White House, Obama said that the gift had been an unexpected surprise, and — drumroll! — she also revealed the contents of the much-discussed Tiffany box.
“It was a lovely frame,” the former first lady said.
“There’s all this protocol,” Obama explained to DeGeneres. “This is like a state visit, so they tell you that you’re going to do this, they’re going to stand here. Never before do you get this gift, so I’m sort of like, ‘OK, what am I supposed to do with this gift?’” she recalled as the two watched video of the memorable moment. “Everyone cleared out and no one would come and take the box, and I’m thinking, ‘Do we take the picture with (it)?’ And then my husband saved the day — see he grabbed the box and took it back inside. But everybody cleared out — no staff, no one. I was like, ‘What do you do with the box?'”
Michelle looked into the camera like Jim does in The Office 😂😂 pic.twitter.com/J1CXrFaKHB
— Jesse ひ (@jessthesav) January 20, 2017
Below, watch a highlight of Obama explaining what was happening during the awkward handoff.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) February 1, 2018
The incident, which soon became a popular internet meme, had fueled speculation about what many thought seemed to be an uncomfortable change-over between the two first ladies — especially so soon after Melania famously appeared to plagiarize a speech of Obama’s during her address at the Republican National Convention. And, as USA Today pointed out, eight years earlier, it was Michelle Obama who was on the other end of a similar gift exchange in the moments before her husband was inaugurated as president. Watch a highlight of that moment below.
Read the full story at USA Today.