First lady Melania Trump on immigration, family separation and 'the jacket': Part 1

The first lady told ABC News' Tom Llamas that she disagreed with the policy of separating families and told her husband. "I said to him that I feel that's unacceptable. And he felt the same."
10:36 | 10/13/18

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Transcript for First lady Melania Trump on immigration, family separation and 'the jacket': Part 1
In Washington, people really don't know her like they know most first ladies. Melania trump is the most private first lady we've seen in the modern era. She's one of the most recognizable faces in the world. A stylish first lady. A devoted mother. But beyond that, Melania trump remains for many Americans an enigma. Finish this sentence. "Melania trump is?" Oh, there's so many. A mother. A wife. A daughter. A sister. A friend. The first lady of the united States. Caring. Compassionate. Strong. Independent. Very detail oriented. And staying true to herself. Reporter: We set off with Melania trump on her first solo trip on the world stage. This scenic wildlife preserve in Kenya serving as the backdrop for her first extensive sitdown since becoming first lady. What's the most surprising thing about being first lady for you? It's sad to see that urbanization and foundations that I want to partner with choose not to because of the administration. What's the worst thing you've had to read about yourself since you've been in the white house? It's all the things that people say, that I'm not happy in the white house, that I don't even live there, and that I'm miserable in my marriage, that I'm out of touch. There's so many things, I don't know where to start. Reporter: The billionaire real estate developer often talked of being president, and Melania knew long ago his dream could one day become a reality. Can you picture yourself a first lady? Yes, I would be very traditional. Like Jackie Kennedy. I would support him. I will do a lot of social obligations. Reporter: Less than 20 years later, that famous escalator ride would take her from her fifth avenue penthouse all the way to the white house. She had the least preparation of any first lady in our history, with the possible exception of Martha Washington. Reporter: The job of first lady comes with no specific duties. Each defining her role in a unique and personal way. The first lady is expected by tradition to be out there, to have a set list of causes. Reporter: For Melania trump, that cause is "Be best." An awareness campaign dedicated to the most valuable and fragile among us, our children. The irony is lost on no one. Here she is championing this anti-cyber bullying initiative. And she is the wife of perhaps one of the most well-known cyber bullies on the planet. Reporter: Online and in person, the president can be ruthless. Oh, I don't know what I said, uh, I don't remember! Wacky Jackie is campaigning with pocahontas, you believe this? A seriously low iq person. Is it tough when your husband goes on Twitter and he's also been known to name-call and be so aggressive and to bully other people. I don't agree always what he posts. But his action is his action. And I tell him that. I know I will be hit with criticism talking about cyber bullying. But it will not stop me to do what is right. Reporter: Melania trump says she knows firsthand what it's like to be targeted. I could say I'm the most bullied person in the world. You think you're the most bullied person in the world? One of them. ? You really see what people are saying about me. And sometimes people would not say to you face-to-face, but hiding behind keyboards and that's the danger. Reporter: Looming large over Melania's trip to Africa, alleged derogatory comments from her husband. He asked, quote, why are we having all these people from blank-hole countries come here? Did that come up at all, did anybody discuss that with you? Nobody discussed that with me and I never heard him saying those comments. And that was anonymous source and I will leave it at that. It was a meeting with members of congress. And some of them spoke about what the president said. This wasn't exactly anonymous sources. Reporter: Melania trump, an immigrant herself, also caught up in the middle of another immigration flash point. And this time it's a family affair. Her husband's opposition to so-called chain migration. A guy comes in and then you have to bring his aunt, his uncle, his father, his grandfather, his grandparents -- Reporter: Melania trump's parents recently naturalized, just benefiting from the same chain migration their son-in-law denounces. I believe in the policies that my husband put together. Because I believe that we need to be very vigilant who is coming to the country. But do you think people should be able to bring in their mother and their father? Yes, of course. But we need to vet them. We need to know who they are. Have you told your husband this? Yes, of course. Reporter: But if that's the case, that's something the president has never publicly outlined. Our laws are so bad. They're so pathetic. Catch and release. Reporter: And it was with an immigration issue that Melania trump found her strongest voice. Taking on her own husband over his controversial policy of separating families crossing the border illegally. I saw it on the news. And I reacted right away. Was it the kids in the cages? We interviewed mothers who were crying, saying they'd been separated for eight months from their children. A separation, yes. It was unacceptable for me to see children and parents separated. It was heartbreaking. And I reacted with my own voice. We begin with the first lady's visit to the border where children have been separated from their parents -- I'd also like to ask you how I can help. What did you learn at the border? I met with the border patrol agents. And they're doing a great job. And after my trip I asked them how I can help to reunite the children and parents. There are hundreds of kids that are still not with their parents. What would you tell them? I would tell them to keep strong. And that time will come, everything needs to go through the core system. It was under your husband's policy, the zero tolerance policy, that these families were separated. That enforcement. Is this somewhere where you disagreed with him? Yes. And I let him know. I didn't know that that policy would come out. I was blind-sided by it. I told him at home. And I said to him that I feel that's unacceptable. And he felt the same. You're going to have a lot of happy people. Reporter: One of the rare times president trump has changed course on an issue, putting a stop to family separations. This is certainly not a president who likes to reverse course when it comes to an issue. So if the first lady is the one who convinced him, end this family separations policy, it really speaks to the role of what a strong adviser she is in his inner circle. Reporter: But it was during that first trip to the border that the first lady's concern for those separated families was called into question. All because of that now-infamous jacket. Why did you wear it? I wore the jacket to go on the plane and off the plane. And it was for the people and for the left-wing media who are criticizing me and I want to show them that I don't care. You can criticize whatever you want to say. But it will not stop me to do what I feel is right. Reporter: As the first lady stepped off the plane on the second leg of her Africa visit -- ?????? ?????? Reporter: Thousands of miles away, her husband had just made headlines in the bitter debate over the credibility of Dr. Christine blasey Ford, the woman at the center of the Kavanaugh hearings. How did you get home? I don't remember. How'd you get there? I don't remember. Where is the place? I don't remember. How many years ago was it? I don't know. I don't know. I don't know. Can women in the "Me too" movement call you a supporter? Women, they have always my support. I feel that women and men, they should be heard. And we should all be treated equal. Reporter: But for her husband and stepson, don Jr., it is men, not the women, who have spoken of fear of the "Me too" movement. A scary time for young men in America when you can be guilty of something you're not guilty of. I think we need to be concerned for all of them. Not just boys or girls. I think for all of them. Is this sort of a tough conversation you'll eventually have, do you think, with your son? I teach my son to be respectful. And responsible. And I have a conversation with him already. He's 12 1/2. And I think it's very important, especially the world changed so much. Do you think men in the news that have been accused of sexual assault, sexual harassment, have been treated unfairly? You need to have evidence. You need to have really hard evidence, that you know, that if you accuse of something, show the evidence. Reporter: Coming up, for the first time, Melania trump addresses questions about her husband's alleged affair. And the personal storm that hit the white house. Has your husband apologized to you since you've been in the white house?

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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