Former White House Adviser Stephanie Winston Wolkoff Says She Tape Recorded Conversations With Melania Trump, Backing Up Book Details
Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former friend and adviser to Melania Trump, published a tell-all book titled Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with the First Lady on September 1. The book presents personal conversations Wolkoff had with Melania, as well as information regarding the inner workings of the White House kept away from the public eye. Wolkoff asserts in an ABC interview that all her book’s claims can be reinforced by audiotape recordings made in secret.
While she was still working under Anna Wintour as a special events director at Vogue, Wolkoff had met Melania in 2003 when she was still known as Melania Knauss. According to an excerpt from her book, the two came into contact after her soon to be husband, Donald Trump, tried boosting her modeling career. Wolkoff writes, “When I met Melania Knauss in 2003, we were both 32 years old and walking the hallways of Vogue. I was working; she was visiting. Ahead of their wedding, Donald needed the perfect setting to roll Melania out of relative obscurity, and what better than the city’s biggest, boldest spotlight, where the fashion, entertainment, and media universes collided—the Met Gala. The event was the ultimate setting for the who’s who; not just anybody could make a grand entrance. Melania was no industry power broker, but Donald was.”
While Wolkoff seemed to have mixed feelings regarding the future president, she grew very close to Melania, to the point that she referred to her as a “sister.” Her previous performance seemed to impress the Trump family enough that Wolkoff would go onto work as a Chief Creative Officer for the 2016 Presidential Inauguration, and then remain as an advisor to the first lady in the White House until 2018.
Wolkoff describes firsthand the contentious relationship that Melania shared with her stepdaughter, Ivanka Trump, who she reportedly claimed, in the wake of Donald’s sexual misconduct allegations, had a reaction that was not “human.”
Family drama aside, Wolkoff revealed to the New York Times that both she and Melania used private e-mails to correspond to one another, something that President Trump had previously criticized Hillary Clinton over repeatedly during the 2016 campaign. Wolkoff revealed that Melania would use e-mails linked to her personal domain, iMessage and a messaging app called Signal.
The two women’s friendship eventually soured after scandals surfaced of alleged financial misconduct regarding funds provided to the inauguration. Wolkoff was portrayed by media as being implicated in the crimes, reported accusations involved her firm personally draining a portion of the funds into her own company, which she denies. Wolkoff revealed her subsequent treatment by Melania in an MSNBC interview and claimed, “Melania and the White House had accused me of criminal activity, had publicly shamed and fired me, and made me their scapegoat.”
"Melania and the White House had accused me of criminal activity, had publicly shamed and fired me, and made me their scapegoat," Stephanie Winston Wolkoff says of her decision to record conversations with the first lady. "At that moment in time, that's when I pressed record." pic.twitter.com/qrTarVZG0P
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) September 2, 2020
Melania’s current Chief of Staff, Stephanie Grisham, had denied all the Wolkoff’s accusations against the First Lady. “Anybody who secretly tapes their self-described best friend is, by definition, dishonest,” she said. “The book is not only full of mistruths and paranoia, it is based on some imagined need for revenge. Wolkoff builds herself up while belittling and blaming everyone she worked with, yet she still managed to be the victim. Sadly, this is a deeply insecure woman who’s need to be relevant defies logic.”
On September 2, Grisham later went onto defend Melania of any misconduct by tweeting a statement that read, “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 (@StephGrisham45) September 3, 2020