Pamela Karlan, a legal expert who testified in front of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee Wednesday, brought up Barron while making a point about the difference between presidential powers and the powers of a king.
“The constitution says there can be no titles of nobility,” she said.
“So while the president can name his son Barron, he can’t make him a baron.”
In a tweet later that afternoon, Melania Trump said that her child deserves privacy and called for him to be kept out of politics.
“Pamela Karlan, you should be ashamed of your very angry and obviously biased public pandering, and using a child to do it,” she said from her official Twitter account.
Karlan apologized during the proceedings for referencing the 13-year-old boy.
“I want to apologize for what I said earlier about the president’s son. It was wrong of me to do that. I wish the president would apologize, obviously, for the things that he’s done that’s wrong but I do regret having said that.”
The Trump campaign accused Karlan of mocking Barron, saying she thought she was “being clever.”
“Every Democrat in Congress should immediately repudiate Pamela Karlan and call on her to personally apologize to President Trump and the First lady,” said a campaign press secretary.
It’s not the first time that public comments regarding Trump’s youngest son have been criticized as out of bounds.
A Saturday Night Live writer apologized for tweeting an offensive joke about Barron in 2017.
Later that year, there was also an incident in which a writer for a conservative website took issue with the child’s clothing, sparking a backlash.
Karlan, a Stanford University law professor, was one of four scholars to participate in a hearing Wednesday on the constitutional grounds for presidential impeachment.
Karlan, who is also a former Obama administration Justice Department official, said Trump’s conduct with regards to Ukraine constituted an especially serious abuse of power “because it undermines democracy itself.”
Republican witness Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, said the Democrats were bringing a “slipshod impeachment” case against the president, but he didn’t excuse the president’s behaviour.
“It is not wrong because President Trump is right,” Turley said. “A case for impeachment could be made, but it cannot be made on this record.”
— With files from the Associated Press