According to this picture (shared over 100k times)

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Text reads,

Obama donated none of his salary, Michelle had a staff of 23

Trump donates all of his salary, Melania has a staff of 4

I'm more interested in the claims about comparative staff size.

  • 4
    I wonder if Trump donated his salary to that charity of his that funds large portraits of himself...
    – einpoklum
    Aug 18, 2019 at 21:38
  • 4
    Michelle Obama was constantly doing something or other of public usefulness. I have not seen reports of Melania Trump actually doing anything at all. The question assumes that they both did the same stuff, with different amounts of help.
    – RedSonja
    Aug 19, 2019 at 8:17
  • @RedSonja I don't think the question is making the assumption you are suggesting it makes (the body of the question is 4 or 5 sentences and no claim is made about usefulness of either Melania or Michelle).
    – Faris
    Aug 19, 2019 at 17:18

2 Answers 2


As for the challenged claim, that is a qualified yes (Michelle's staff was larger than Melania's, but not by that much, and there were reasons for it).

The Hill writes in an article dated October 2017:

Melania Trump has a smaller group of aides compared to her predecessor, Michelle Obama, according to the news outlet's analysis of White House personnel reports.

The article goes on to state that Melania Trump has a staff of four listed on the record, with her communications director Stephanie Grisham stating that there are five more people serving her since the report stating "four" came out in June that year.

This is in contrast to Michelle Obama's staff, which (in Barack Obama's first year in office) had 16 people listed, with "some Obama administration officials" putting the actual number "closer to 24".

So, listed staff would be 4 to 16. The original claim apparently compares "listed" to "unofficial", but I'll let this slide. (And see the Snopes article linked below for a different take on the numbers.)

The Hill adds this (emphasis mine):

Obama took on a busy agenda at the start of her husband's term, pushing initiatives like "Let's Move," her campaign against child obesity.

In comparison, Melania Trump remained in New York during the first few months of the Trump presidency while her son Barron Trump finished the school year.

Snopes also mentions this (emphasis mine):

Things get more complicated when it comes to Melania Trump. For one thing, she didn’t move into the White House until 11 June 2017, five months into her husband’s presidency. For another, she was far less active during her inaugural year as first lady than her immediate predecessors.

With regards to the White House personnel reports that The Hill is also referring to, Snopes continues (emphasis mine):

That report does list exactly four staff members whose titles link them directly to the first lady, but it is neither a full nor a current count, for the following reasons:

First, the report was published on 1 July 2017, only slightly more than two weeks after Melania Trump moved into the East Wing. Her staff was skeletal then, at best.


Her three new hires in January 2018 would have brought that total to 12 staffers — a total still lower than Michelle Obama’s, but triple the mere four claimed of her.

And as it's prominently featuring in the claim, and I don't like to let lies go unchallenged:

Snopes also states that Barack Obama donated all of the USD 1.4 million he received as winner of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, putting his donations at ~78% that of what Trump will have donated at the end of his term -- while not being a billionaire to begin with.

  • 1
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Sklivvz
    Aug 16, 2019 at 17:42
  • 4
    Take your political opinions to chat, please.
    – Oddthinking
    Aug 18, 2019 at 15:43
  • @DevSolar, it's pretty clear from context they are just talking about salary for being President, not gifts, awards, investment income, etc. Trump is not donating 100% of his dividends. Jan 2, 2020 at 8:29

This claim dates back to July 2018, and is based on a report from 1 July 2017, less than a month after Melania became the First Lady.

Snopes fact-checked it and explains that it is misleading:

Does Melania Trump have a smaller staff than Michelle Obama? Yes, but the disparity is smaller than alleged.

They explain that, comparing like-to-like, Melania had 12 staffers, not just the four included in the early report. They explain how the discrepancy in the counting occurred.

  • 3
    As great as Snopes is, when it comes to political fact-checks they are inconsistent and often liberally slanted. Things are “inconsistent” when it comes to cases that support conservative claims, while even more inconsistent liberal claims are declared “mostly true”. As a liberal-conservative, I don’t care one side or the other, but have to point out that analysts in these fact-checking websites apply their own biases. While they are a good first stop for research, they should not be used as a definitive objective source without taking into consideration their inconsistencies and faults.
    – vol7ron
    Aug 18, 2019 at 16:04
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    @vol7ron: This is an ad hominem attack against Snopes. The question should be whether this particular Snopes article is well-referenced to support their claims. Not all of them are, but for this one I think that answer is clearly yes. (FWIW: FactCheck reviewed whether Snopes exhibited liberal bias, and concluded not.)
    – Oddthinking
    Aug 19, 2019 at 2:36
  • 1
    thanks, though this isn’t ad hominem. I don’t want to detract by expanding on this any more than what I have already stated. The point, again, is I find that using a fact-checking website alone is not enough despite conclusions that FactCheck arrives at. By all means, use arguments and resources they’ve listed, but I don’t think it’s enough to use their results, given their mislabeling - I’ve come across a handful of mislabeled conclusions over the years, which may not be statistically significant, but I think is a lot given my limited use.
    – vol7ron
    Aug 19, 2019 at 3:44
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    @vol7ron: But that is exactly what ad hominem means -- judging a statement, or data, based on where it came from, instead on its own grounds. By all means, be skeptical (that's what we're here for). But "being skeptical" means "find data that confirms or disproves the statement made" (constructive), not merely going "I don't like your source, find another" (destructive). Snopes lists Forbes, Reuters, the White House, Politico, and Fox News as sources. Do you have any reason to doubt their statements, other than "I don't like Snopes"?
    – DevSolar
    Aug 19, 2019 at 6:36
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    @DevSolar I could always be wrong, but that not how I see it. ad hominem is attacking the underlying or alternative characteristics of an entity other than those in scope. Often its an attack on a person instead of the position being held. In this case, the characteristics are of quality and consistency of using a source site. If I were to say you can’t trust that because the people that created it are Canadian, that would be ad hominem because it’s no longer about the consistency or quality, but that’s not what occurred. Is credibility not a criteria in using a site as definitive source?
    – vol7ron
    Aug 19, 2019 at 10:27

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