As her husband continued to rip into his adversaries on Twitter, first lady Melania Trump on Monday warned that social media can be used in a “destructive and harmful” manner during remarks at a conference on preventing cyberbullying.

“In today’s global society, social media is an inevitable part of our children’s daily lives,” the first lady said. “It can be used in many positive ways but can also be destructive and harmful when used incorrectly.”

Her message was part of a broader initiative, Be Best, that her office launched in May on improving children’s well-being, including “the safe and responsible use of social media,” as she characterized it in Monday’s remarks.

Melania Trump made no mention of the president in her brief remarks at the outset of Monday’s conference in Rockville, Md. He had spent part of his morning taking fresh aim on Twitter at special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, calling him “disgraced and discredited.”

After the first lady’s speech, President Trump was back on Twitter, calling John Brennan “the worst CIA Director in our country’s history.”

The president’s use of Twitter to target his real and perceived enemies is well known. Only last week he prompted a new furor by referring to former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman as “that dog” — a term many found to be racist and misogynistic.

The first lady’s audience Monday included representatives of social media companies, federal agencies, educational organizations, youth programs and law enforcement.

She thanked them for their efforts to prevent cyberbullying and urged them to listen to children’s views on the issue.

“Let’s face it,” Trump said. “Most children are more aware of the benefits and pitfalls of social media than some adults, but we still need to do all we can to provide them with information and tools for successful and safe online habits.”

Asked about the juxtaposition of the first lady’s remarks and the president’s round of aggressive tweets on Monday, Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s communications director, said she is “aware of the criticism but it will not deter her from doing what she feels is right.”

“The President is proud of her commitment to children and encourages her in all that she does,” Grisham added in a statement.

The first lady’s broader Be Best initiative has been slow to take shape.

A week after announcing it in a Rose Garden ceremony, Trump underwent kidney surgery for what the White House described as a “benign condition.” She remained out of public sight for weeks.

More recently, Trump’s policy director, Reagan Hedlund, a former Hill staffer and National Security Council executive assistant tasked with leading the first lady’s initiatives, left her job on what was already a small staff.

Emily Heil contributed to this report.


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