2020-10-13 21:12:01 UTC
*Attorney General Bill Barr's Justice Department has sued Melania Trump's former
best friend over her tell-all book
*Lawyers say Stephanie Winston Wolkoff broke a non-disclosure agreement she
signed to work with the first lady
*Suit filed in federal court asked for book's profits to be put in a trust
*Book gave an unflattering portrayal of Melania Trump
*Wolkoff also played recordings of conversations she had with first lady during
her media tours promoting the book
Attorney General Bill Barr's Justice Department has sued Melania Trump's former
best friend, accusing Stephanie Winston Wolkoff of breaking a nondisclosure
agreement with her tell-all book about the first lady.
Wolkoff, in her memoir about working with Melania, revealed several embarrassing
stories about the first lady. During her media tour, she played recordings of
Melania Trump making disparaging remarks about having to decorate the White
House for Christmas and about immigrant children being separated from their
DoJ lawyers asked the U.S. District Court in Washington to put the profits from
'Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with the First Lady,' which
has been on the best-seller list, in a government trust.
The government lawyers argue Wolkoff failed to submit to the government a draft
of her book for review.
'The United States seeks to hold Ms. Wolkoff to her contractual and fiduciary
obligations and to ensure that she is not unjustly enriched by her breach of the
duties she freely assumed when she served as an adviser to the first lady,' said
a copy of the complaint as reported by Reuters.
The book was published six weeks ago.
The complaint says Wolkoff and Trump in August 2017 signed a 'Gratuitous
Services Agreement' related to 'nonpublic, privileged and/or confidential
information' that she might obtain during her service under the agreement.
'This was a contract with the United States and therefore enforceable by the
United States,' said Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec.
Wolkoff worked on the Trump inauguration and as an unpaid adviser in the East
Wing in the early days of the administration. She admitted to signing an NDA but
said she consulted an attorney before publishing her memoir to ensure she didn't
Wolkoff's book was published September 1 but details from it leaked as the first
lady was preparing to address the Republican National Convention to make her
case for her husband's second term.
Melania Trump lashed out at 'delusional & malicious gossip' after embarrassing
bits of the book came out, including revealing the first lady's bitter rivalry
with Ivanka Trump and a secret private email account.
'This afternoon I will be hosting a roundtable with some incredible citizens in
recovery & the amazing organizations that support them. I encourage the media to
focus & report on the nation's drug crisis, not on delusional & malicious
gossip,' the first lady wrote on Twitter in last month after the book was
Melania Trump has not directly address the allegations in the books although her
chief of staff has criticized Wolkoff for the tome.
Stephanie Grisham said of the book that 'anybody who secretly tapes their
self-described best friend is, by definition, dishonest.'
But garnering greater attention than the stories in the memoir were the
conversations with the first lady that Wolkoff recorded during their friendship
and then played during her book tour.
In one, Melania called porn star Stormy Daniels a 'porn hooker' when she
complained to Wolkoff about Daniels getting a photo shoot in Vogue by acclaimed
photographer Annie Leibovitz.
Daniels claims she had an affair with Donald Trump in 2006 and was paid off
during the 2016 campaign to stay silent about it. Trump has denied that.
'If you Google, go Google and read it Annie Leibovitz shot the porn hooker, as
she will be in one of the issues, September or October,' Melania Trump can be
heard saying in the tape.
Wolkoff then asks the first lady, 'What do you mean, she shot the "porn
'Stormy,' the first lady replies.
Wolkoff, who was a senior adviser to the first lady in the early days of the
Trump administration, can be heard replying, 'Shut the f*** up.'
'Oh you didn't read it. It was yesterday it came out. For Vogue. She will be in
Vogue. Annie Leibowitz shot her,' the first lady says.
In another recording that Wolkoff played, Melania is heard complaining 'who
gives a f*** about Christmas stuff' while voicing her frustration over having to
perform traditional first lady tasks.
The tapes were released when Winston Wolkoff appeared on CNN on October 1, hours
before it was announced Melania and Donald Trump tested positive for Covid-19.
The conversation appears to have taken place shortly after Melania visited a
immigration detention center in McAllen, Texas back in June 2018.
She huffed 'give me a f***ing break' while complaining about criticism she
received for her husband's policy of splitting up families who illegally crossed
the border while at the same time having to decorate the White House for
'They say I'm complicit. I'm the same like [President Trump], I support him, I
don't say enough. I don't do enough,' Melania says.
'Where I am. I put - I'm working like a - my a** off - at Christmas stuff that
you know, who gives a f*** about Christmas stuff and decoration? But I need to
do it, right?
'Ok, and then I do it. And I say that I'm working on Christmas planning for the
Christmas. And they said, "Oh, what about the children that they were
'Give me a f***ing break. Where they were saying anything when Obama did that?'
One of the modern duties of the first lady is to decorate the White House for
Jackie Kennedy began the tradition of having a theme for the official White
House Christmas tree, which is placed in the Blue Room, in 1961.
Melania's first year decorating was in 2017 and she honored Jackie's first theme
of 'The Nutcracker Suite' by having ballerinas dance in the halls, as she
unveiled the year's decorations and theme of 'Time-Honored Traditions'.
Each room paid homage to a tradition, including a Gold Star tree, a way to
respect fallen troops,and a gallery of silhouettes of past presidents in the
Green Room, acknowledging an early craft.
However, she was quickly panned online for her choices, primarily for the East
Colonnade, which was decorated on both sides with glistening white branches.
During the same conversation with Wolkoff, Melania appeared to say she attempted
to reunite a child held at an immigration detention center with their mother,
saying: 'I was trying to get the kid reunited with the mom.
'I didn't have a chance. Needs to go through the process and through the law.'
It is not clear which mother and child Melania is talking about but she says 'we
put it out, they would not do the story,' referring to the press.
'They are not, they would not do the story because they, they, they are against
us, because they're liberal media,' she said.
'Yeah if I go to Fox, they will do the story. I don't want to go to Fox.'
During her conversation with Winston Wilkoff, she appears to tell her former
friend that she believed the children being held in detention camps were happy
to be in US custody.
The First Lady said: 'All these kids that I met they were, theyre here in the
shelters because they were brought by it through Coyotes, the people who were
trafficking - that's why they put them in jail,' Melania is heard saying.
'And the kids that they go in shelters. And the way they take care of them. Its
you know, they even said, the kids, they said "Wow I had my own bed? I will
sleep on the bed. I will have a cabinet for my clothes?"'
'It's so sad to hear it. But they didn't have that in their own countries.
They're sleeping on the floors. They are taken care [of] nicely [in the
In the audio, Melania acknowledges that it's 'sad' the children are not with
their parents, before later appearing to imply that some of those seeking asylum
often fabricate stories that they're fleeing gang violence to game the system.
'A lot of moms and kids, they are teached [sic] how to do it. They go over and
they say like, "Oh we will be killed by gang members ... It's so dangerous". So
they're allowed to stay here.
'They could easily stay in Mexico but they don't want to stay in Mexico because
Mexico doesn't take care of them the same as America does,' Melania asserts.
Wolkoff said that she believed Melania would've likely initially had a maternal
concern for the children, but likely moved past it to fit in with the ideals of
her husband's administration.
'I think that as a mother, those maternal instincts in her were set off and she
did care,' Wolkoff said on CNN, 'But there is no husband to come to, the leader
of the free world, to discuss how she's feeling about that. So regardless of
that, she steps in line and she just decides that what she has heard and what
she's been told is what the rule of law is in our country.'
Wolkoff also told CNN that Melania wore the infamous 'I really don't care, do
u?' jacket when she visited a migrant child detention center as a publicity
'It was a publicity stunt, and it was to garner the attention of the press, to
make sure that everyone was aware that Melania was going to the border,' Wolkoff
Part of the motive behind the statement, according to Wolkoff, was for the
Trumps to celebrate that they 'had something over' Barack and Michelle Obama,
neither of whom visited the migrant camps during their time in the White House.
'They do things not for the purpose that good deeds are done for,' Wolkoff said.
'Good deeds are done for the intent of doing good, not for the attention you get
for doing good deeds.
'Unfortunately, this administration and the people around them, and this family,
are only doing things that benefit them instead of all of these children and
people that are suffering.'
During the broadcast, a clip of another conversation between Melania and Wolkoff
about the jacket was aired.
Wolkoff is heard asking Melania what spurred her to buy it in the first place,
to which the First Lady responded: 'I'm driving Liberals crazy for sure ... And
they deserve it.'
Those were some of the numerous headlines that surrounded the first lady in the
wake of publication of Wolkoff's book, 'Melania & Me.'
Wolkoff offered details on the tense relationship between Melania Trump and her
stepdaughter Ivanka Trump.
She also revealed Melania uses a private email account, which President Trump
criticized Hillary Clinton for doing during their bitter 2016 campaign.
Wolkoff told The Washington Post: 'Melania and I both didn't use White House
The first lady is said to have used a private Trump Organization email account
and an email from a MelaniaTrump.com domain as well as iMessage.
The messages were said to show her discussing government hires, state visits and
schedules, the Easter egg roll and her Be Best initiative.
The East Wing said Melania Trump has followed the requirements of the
Presidential Records Act.
'In consultation with White House ethics officials, from the beginning of the
Administration, the First Lady and her staff have taken steps to meet the
standard of the Presidential Records Act, relating to the preservation of
records that adequately document official activities,' Stephanie Grisham, chief
of staff to the first lady, said in a statement.
In 2018 The Washington Post reported that Ivanka Trump sent hundreds of emails
about government business from a personal email account to White House aides,
Cabinet members and her assistant.
Ivanka dismissed any comparison to the use of private email by former Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton, which prompted an FBI investigation and inspired the
'Lock Her Up' chant at Donald Trump's 2016 campaign rallies.
Use of personal emails is allowed but it is illegal to discuss anything
Wolkoff also admitted to recording her conversations with Melania, but defended
doing so, saying she did it for protection.
She told The Post she started recording Melania in February 2018 until they
stopped talking or texting on Jan. 1, 2019.
She said she decided to do so the day after the White House terminated her
contract, out of fear of becoming a 'fall guy' amid scrutiny of inaugural
'I didn't record a friend. I would never record a friend,' Winston Wolkoff told
The Post. 'But this is very important she was no longer my friend when I
Wolkoff left the East Wing in February 2018 after The New York Times, in
February 2018, published an article revealing the inauguration cost $107 million
- twice what Barack Obama's first inauguration cost - and that Wolkoff's firm
received $26 million of that money.
Most of that money went to vendors Wolkoff's firm hired to produce the events.
Wolkoff argues the story was planted by her enemies in the White House and by
those who didn't want to answer to the where much of the inaugural money went.
'That's the question that everyone should be asking,' she told ABC News last
week of the $107 million raised.
She said she received $480,000 for her three months of work on the inauguration
- 'a fee of less than one half of one-percent.'
Her memoir details her 15-year friendship with Melania, who she first met while
she was working at Vogue magazine.
It's the first book about Melania Trump to emerge from her inner circle and
Wolkoff charts a disillusionment with the first lady, writing that she thought
Melania was different but realized 'A Trump is a Trump is a Trump. All along, I
thought she was one of us. Bat at her core, she's one of them.'
There are several gossipy bits in the 339-page book, including the revelation
Melania laughed during the 2016 campaign after the infamous 'Access Hollywood'
tape came out and revealed Trump saying he liked to grab women 'by the p****.'
Wolkoff claims the first lady also scoffed at Michelle Obama's time in office.
She reportedly once said 'Did Michelle Obama go to the border? She never did.
Show me the pictures!'
The book also paints an unflattering portrait of Ivanka Trump, showing her as
eager to run the show and claiming she was trying take over many of Melania's
first lady duties.
'Ivanka was very focused on Ivanka,' Wolkoff writes.
The White House has disputed much that is in the book, arguing Wolkoff has some
'imagined need for revenge.'
The book claims Melania Trump plotted to keep Ivanka Trump out of the photos of
President Donald Trump taking the oath of office on Inauguration Day with her
'Operation Block Ivanka.'
The first lady approved seating arrangements for the inauguration platform that
would keep Ivanka Trump out of the camera shot during the moment her father was
sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.
Wolkoff writes that: 'Ivanka texted me a photo of Barack Obama's swearing-in,
his hand on the Bible, Michelle, Malia, and Sasha standing to his left. She
wrote, 'FYI regarding the swearing in. It is nice to have family with him for
this special moment.''
But, instead, Wolkoff and the incoming first lady launched 'Operation Block
Ivanka' to keep the first daughter out of the shot.
The two women went to great lengths to thwart Ivanka.
They took advantage of Wolkoff's position on the inauguration planning committee
to gain advance information on how the day would play out in order to make their
Wolkoff, a former Met Gala planner and personal friend of Melania's, was tapped
to help produce Inauguration Day and the events surrounding it.
Using her position, she had an executive of her company, WIS Media Partners,
take detailed notes on the inauguration platform at the U.S. Capitol building
during one of the walk throughs that proceed such events. Walk throughs allow
organizers and staff of the attendees to do a practice run of how the day will
play out. It allows all the details of the day to be worked out: what time
people arrive and in what order, where they will sit, and how the day will play
out in precise order.
Using the detailed sketch her employee drew up of the platform on the East Front
of the Capitol, where Trump was sworn in with his family and VIP guests behind
him, Melania and Wolkoff were able to work out where the cameras would be
located on and how the chairs for the family should be positioned to get the
images they wanted.
'Using his sketch, we were able to figure out whose face would be visible when
Donald and Melania sat in their seats, and then when the family stood with Chief
Justice John Roberts for Donald to take the oath of office,' Wolkoff wrote. 'If
Ivanka was not on the aisle, her face would be hidden while she was seated. For
the standing part, we put Barron between Donald and Melania.'
Melania and Wolkoff then arranged for Donald Trump Jr., the president's oldest
son, to be stand next to Melania instead of Ivanka, further keeping her out of
Wolkoff blames 'exhaustion and stress' for some of the drama but also
acknowledges the pettiness of it.
'Yes, Operation Block Ivanka was petty. Melania was in on this mission. But in
our minds, Ivanka shouldn't have made herself the center of attention in her
father's inauguration,' she wrote.
She notes their Operation Block Ivanka was a result of the first daughter trying
to control the schedule for inauguration day and make sure her family - husband
Jared Kushner and their three children - had prominent positions on the big day.
'It was Donald's inauguration, not Ivanka's. But no one was brave enough to tell
her that. Melania was not thrilled about Ivanka's steering the schedule and
would not allow it. Neither was she happy to hear that Ivanka insisted on
walking in the Pennsylvania Avenue parade with her children,' she noted.
Wolkoff's book gives legitimacy to years of talk of a rivalry between Melania
and Ivanka that has accumulated in an intense, competitive relationship between
the two women.
The two most prominent women in President Trump's life - his 50-year-old wife
and his 38-year-old eldest daughter - have little overlap in the White House
complex: Ivanka Trump, who serves as an adviser to her father, has an office in
the West Wing. Melania Trump works out of the East Wing on the opposite side of
They have never hosted a joint initiative or event. And are rarely seen together