DOJ sues Stephanie Winston Wolkoff over Melania Trump tell-all

  • The Justice Department on Tuesday sued Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former friend of first lady Melania Trump. 
  • The civil complaint claims Wolkoff violated a nondisclosure agreement by publishing a tell-all about her time advising the first lady and planning President Donald Trump’s inauguration. 
  • Wolkoff’s “Melania and Me” includes claims about the first lady’s animosity toward Ivanka Trump and reasoning for wearing a controversial jacket to the US border.
  • Read the DOJ’s lawsuit below.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Department of Justice sued a former friend of first lady Melania Trump on Tuesday, claiming she violated a nondisclosure agreement by publishing a tell-all about her time working for the White House. 

In “Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with The First Lady,” which was released last month, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff detailed her work planning President Donald Trump’s 2017 inauguration and advising the first lady in the first year of the Trump administration.

Wolkoff left the White House in 2018 following a scandal involving how much her company made from working on the inauguration. Anecdotes in her book include:

Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s chief of staff and spokeswoman, has called Wolkoff’s book “not truthful.”

In a civil complaint filed Tuesday in a Washington, DC, district court, the DOJ accused Wolkoff of breach of contract and breach of fiduciary obligations, and asked the court to transfer all money she makes from the book into a government trust.

stephanie winsteon wolkoff melania trump

Wolkoff and Melania Trump in New York City in 2008.


BILLY FARRELL/Patrick McMullan via Getty



The complaint said Wolkoff signed a “strict confidentiality” agreement, promising not to publish any information gleaned from her time working for the first lady, unless given express written permission. 

“In particular, the Agreement makes clear that, by virtue of being placed in a position of trust as an advisor, Ms. Wolkoff  ‘may have access to nonpublic, privileged and/or confidential information’ while serving the First Lady,” the complaint said.

“Because of the trust placed in Ms. Wolkoff by the First Lady, and in consideration for access to the White House and sensitive information, Ms. Wolkoff agreed to maintain strict confidentiality regarding this information.”

DOJ lawyers say that Wolkoff never sent a manuscript to the White House for review, and therefore is in “flat violation” of her “contractual obligations and fiduciary duties.” 

The DOJ is seeking the court to rule in its favor, and has set up a government trust for the proceeds of the book to go to so that Wolkoff is “not unjustly enriched by her breach of duties.”

Read the lawsuit here:

[documentcloud url=”http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/7230987-Stephanie-Winston-Wolkoff-DOJ-Lawsuit.html” responsive=true]

‘Bullying tactics’

 

Simon & Schuster, which published Wolkoff’s book, did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment on the lawsuit.

However, Wolkoff issued comment on the lawsuit to Reuters, saying the confidentiality provisions ended “when the White House terminated the agreement.” 

“The president and first lady’s use of the US Department of Justice to silence me is a violation of my First Amendment Rights and

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Justice Dept. sues to seize profits of tell-all Melania Trump book, citing White House nondisclosure pact

In a statement, Wolkoff said she fulfilled all the terms of the agreement and that its confidentiality provisions ended when the White House terminated it.

Winston Wolkoff, 50, had a 15-year friendship with Melania Trump before she was ousted in 2018 as an unpaid senior adviser to the first lady in a scandal involving President Trump’s $107 million inauguration. Winston Wolkoff has said she felt “betrayed” when news accounts focused on $26 million paid to her event-planning firm by the inauguration. Most of the money went to pay for inaugural events, and she personally retained $484,126, The Washington Post has reported.

In the book, Winston Wolkoff described what she viewed as extensive mismanagement and opaque accounting for the inauguration, after which she cooperated with law enforcement investigators.

But the former right-hand events planner to Vogue editor Anna Wintour has created a larger media storm this month by playing excerpts of phone conversations that she began secretly recording with the first lady in February 2018 without her knowledge.

Melania Trump’s chief of staff, Stephanie Grisham, has lambasted Winston Wolkoff for the recordings.

“Secretly taping the first lady and willfully breaking an NDA to publish a salacious book is a clear attempt at relevance,” Grisham said in an Oct. 2 statement to CNN. “The timing of this continues to be suspect — as does this never-ending exercise in self-pity and narcissism.”

The lawsuit is likely to draw renewed attention to the tapes, which capture Melania Trump venting in profane language about her frustrations with critical media coverage, expectations about her role in planning White House Christmas decorations and defending the administration’s separation of migrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Who gives a f— about the Christmas stuff and decorations?” Trump said in one portion played in interviews with Winston Wolkoff by CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

On another recording, the first lady refers to porn star Stormy Daniels as “the porn hooker.” Porn actresses took to Twitter and accused her of shaming sex workers. The recording played on “Mea Culpa,” a podcast hosted by Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, who went to jail for lying to investigators about paying hush money to Daniels, who said she had an affair with Trump before he became president. President Trump has denied the affair.

According to the lawsuit, Winston Wolkoff served as an adviser to the first lady from January to August 21, 2017, helping Melania Trump assemble her staff, remodel the East Wing and communicate with the media.

Winston Wolkoff then entered a formal “Gratuitous services Agreement” that included, among other things, the handling of “nonpublic, privileged and/or confidential information,” the suit asserts. Serving as a volunteer policy and media adviser, Winston Wolkoff agreed that she was “specifically prohibited from publishing, reproducing or otherwise divulging any such information to any unauthorized person or entity in whole or in part,” the Justice Department said in court filings.

The agreement also bound Winston Wolkoff to not disclose her work with the first lady’s office to anyone without written

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Melania Trump has no plans to leave White House while sick, official says, contrasting with the President

First lady Melania Trump has no plans to leave the White House while she convalesces at the Executive Residence after contracting Covid-19, an official confirmed to CNN on Monday.



Melania Trump, Donald Trump are posing for a picture


© Julio Cortez/AP


The decision marks a stark contrast with her husband, President Donald Trump, who also tested positive for coronavirus. On Sunday, the President left Walter Reed Medical Center for a motorcade drive-by past a few dozen supporters outside the hospital, potentially risking exposure to his Secret Service agents.

“Melania is aware of the dangers of Covid-19,” the official told CNN. “Potentially exposing others is not a risk she would take.”

NBC News first reported the first lady’s decision not to leave the White House.

In the early hours of Friday morning, the first lady tweeted she and the President had tested positive for coronavirus, adding she had mild symptoms.

On Monday, she tweeted she is “feeling good & will continue to rest at home.” She also thanked medical staff and caretakers, and said she was praying for those affected by Covid-19.

“My family is grateful for all of the prayers & support! I am feeling good & will continue to rest at home. Thank you to medical staff & caretakers everywhere, & my continued prayers for those who are ill or have a family member impacted by the virus.”

The first lady made the decision to cut back on travel and public events six months ago because she was aware of the extensive apparatus of people involved in her movement, and did not wish to chance their health, nor her own, the White House official told CNN. Last month, the first lady traveled to New Hampshire to visit a hospital program focused on treating babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome.

It was her first official solo trip since the pandemic began. In recent weeks, however, the first lady had begun to increase her profile.

During July visits to a Washington, DC, fire station to thank first responders and to a women’s shelter, she wore a mask and stayed socially distant. During September events at the White House, including the announcement of Supreme Court Nominee Amy Coney Barrett, Trump did not wear a face mask.

At the first presidential debate, the first lady was the only member of the Trump family to keep her face covering on for the duration of the debate, removing it, however, at the end of the program to go onstage and join her husband. She also did not wear a mask at a White House ceremony for Gold Star families on September 25, according to pictures she posted on her social media accounts, which show the first lady and the President with guests in the East Room and posing with them for photos.

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Melania Trump didn’t visit husband to avoid exposing Secret Service and medical staff to COVID-19

Doctors and infectious disease experts were highly critical of President Trump’s decision to get driven in a hermetically sealed SUV around Walter Reed Medical Center to wave to supporters while he is contagious with COVID-19, endangering his Secret Service detail, photographed wearing the wrong type of personal protective equipment. The Secret Service has noticed.

Somebody at the White House had considered the safety of Secret Service agents. On Saturday, a White House official told NBC News’ Peter Alexander that first lady Melania Trump would not leave her isolation in the White House residence to visit her husband because “she has COVID” and “that would expose the agents who would drive her there and the medical staff who would walk her up to him.”

The White House defended what spokesman Judd Deere called Trump’s “short, last-minute motorcade ride to wave to his supporters outside.” Deere told Axios‘ Alayna Treene, the White House pool reporter on duty, that “appropriate precautions were taken in the execution of this movement to protect the president and all those supporting it, including PPE. The movement was cleared by the medical team as safe to do.” Deere did not, Treene note, “answer additional questions, such as whether the drive-by happened at the president’s request.”

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Doctor slams Trump for leaving hospital to drive by supporters: ‘The irresponsibility is astounding’

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Melania Trump Was Secretly Recorded Discussing Her Role As First Lady

There’s long been speculation about where First Lady Melania Trump’s allegiances lie. During the last four years, she’s mostly kept quiet, other than an ill-advised “Be Best” initiative to combat cyberbullying and trip to an immigrant children’s shelter on the Texas/Mexico border where she wore a jacket that read, “I really don’t care. Do U?” on the back.

On Thursday, new insight into her behind-the-scenes beliefs emerged with the release of audio secretly recorded by her former aide and friend, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff. Wolkoff left the White House in 2018 after it was revealed her firm reportedly made $26 million off the planning of Trump’s inauguration, per the New York Times. In the summer of 2018, after Wolkoff had exited her East Wing role, she secretly taped Trump expressing disillusionment with several aspects of her life at the White House. “They say I’m complicit. I’m the same like him, I support him. I don’t say enough I don’t do enough where I am,” Trump said of criticism she received due to her husband’s separation of migrant children at the border. The First Lady added, “I’m working my ass off on the Christmas stuff, that you know, who gives a fuck about the Christmas stuff and decorations? But I need to do it, right?”

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When Wolkoff confirmed she would have to carry out her yuletide duties, Trump continued, “Okay, and then I do it and I say that I’m working on Christmas and planning for the Christmas and they said, ‘Oh, what about the children that they were separated?’ Give me a fucking break. Where they were saying anything when Obama did that?’ I cannot go, I was trying get the kid reunited with the mom. I didn’t have a chance—needs to go through the process and through the law.” (CNN, where the tapes were originally aired, notes that Obama’s policy was to only separate children “when authorities had concerns for their well-being” or couldn’t confirm a legal guardian.)

Trump also suggested that children separated from their families were treated better at the border detention centers than in their home countries. “The kids, they say, ‘Wow I will have 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 sleep on the floor,” she claimed. “They are taken care of nicely there. But you know, yeah, they are not with parents, it’s sad. But when they come here alone or with coyotes or illegally, you know, you need to do something.”

Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with the First Lady

The First Lady, who became a U.S. citizen in 2006, also criticized the tactics she alleged some immigrant families use to

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Melania Trump blasts critics over child migrants and says ‘who gives a f**k’ about Xmas decor in leaked recordings

FIRST Lady Melania Trump blasted critics over child migrants and said “who gives a f**k” about Christmas decorations in audio recordings that were released on Thursday.

Melania was secretly recorded by her former friend, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who worked as an unpaid aide in the East Wing of the White House until being let go in February 2018.

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Secretly taped audio recordings of First Lady Melania Trump were leaked on Thursday

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Secretly taped audio recordings of First Lady Melania Trump were leaked on ThursdayCredit: AFP or licensors
Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, Melania's former BFF, recorded and leaked the tapes

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Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, Melania’s former BFF, recorded and leaked the tapesCredit: ABCNews

The 50-year-old was heard complaining to Wolkoff about reporters who questioned her about President Donald Trump’s policy of separating kids from families who crossed the US border with Mexico illegally.

“They say I’m complicit. I’m the same like him, I support him. I don’t say enough I don’t do enough where I am,” she told Wolkoff in the recording that was obtained by CNN.

“I’m working … my a** off on the Christmas stuff, that you know, who gives a f**k about the Christmas stuff and decorations? But I need to do it, right?”

In the audio, Melania continued: “OK, and then I do it and I say that I’m working on Christmas and planning for the Christmas and they said, ‘Oh, what about the children that they were separated?’

Melania is heard in the audio blastic critics about child migrants

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Melania is heard in the audio blastic critics about child migrantsCredit: Reuters

“Give me a f**king break. Where they were saying anything when Obama did that? I can not go, I was trying get the kid reunited with the mom.

“I didn’t have a chance – needs to go through the process and through the law,” the first lady said.

People are seen here inside a US Border Patrol Processing Center, in McAllen, Texas, in 2018

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People are seen here inside a US Border Patrol Processing Center, in McAllen, Texas, in 2018Credit: EPA

As noted by CNN, Melania was referring to former President Barack Obama’s policy of kids being separated from parents “only when authorities had concerns for their well-being or could not confirm that the adult was in fact their legal guardian.”

It wasn’t used as a blanket policy as it was in the Trump administration. 

In another tape recorded by Wolkoff, Melania said migrant kids are brought to the US “by coyotes.”

She said that the reactions from children shows the quality of US detention centers explains “the way they take care of them,” referring to their parents.

Wolkoff and Melania and President Donald Trump are pictured here in 2008

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Wolkoff and Melania and President Donald Trump are pictured here in 2008Credit: Getty Images – Getty

“The kids, they say, ‘Wow I will have 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 sleep on the floor.

“They are taken care of nicely there. But you know, yeah, they are not with parents, it’s sad,” Melania said.

“But when they come here

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President And Melania Trump Host Governors Ball At The White House

Texas Governor Greg Abbott (back to camera), Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and other sit together during the annual Governors Dinner in the East Room of the White House February 26, 2017 in Washington, DC. Part of the National Governors Association’s annual meeting in the nation’s capital, the black tie dinner and ball is the first formal event the Trumps will host at the White House since moving in last month. Pool photo by Chip Somodevilla/UPI

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Melania Trump’s newly renovated Rose Garden undergoes repair after less than three weeks



a woman standing in front of a building: The First Lady had unveiled the recently revamped historic garden just under three weeks ago. — Pictures from Instagram/Melania Trump


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The First Lady had unveiled the recently revamped historic garden just under three weeks ago. — Pictures from Instagram/Melania Trump

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 11 — In less than three weeks after it was officially unveiled, the White House’s newly-renovated Rose Garden is requiring repair works.

The iconic garden is reportedly having water drainage issues along with “some minor complications with updated construction”, a source told CNN.

First Lady Melania Trump had hosted a private party on August 22 to celebrate the new Rose Garden which took some three weeks of renovation to complete.

Trump announced she was renovating the iconic garden late July to modernise the outdoor space for televised events.

The lack of drainage had resulted in the south lawn and garden being damaged and as a result, fake turf had to be rolled out on the area to make it usable during the Republican National Convention.

The historic garden was planted by her predecessors and featured rose bushes that were over 100 years old.

The garden famously underwent a redesign by Jackie Kennedy who retained rose bushes planted by other First Ladies before her.

Under Trump, colourful roses and flowers were replaced by just white and pale pink blooms with the addition of a custom platform and lighting apparatus.

US media outlets reported that the once historic area had been turned into a stage for the First Lady’s husband much to the public’s chagrin.

Many were particularly unimpressed with the decision to rip out 10 healthy crabapple trees that were planted by Kennedy to honour her husband’s New England roots.

 

 

 

 

According to a 220-page report on the garden history and renovation, the crabapple trees were removed because they had too much shade, preventing the plants beneath them from growing healthily.

According to CNN, the Rose Garden renovation was paid for by private funds, a large portion of which was acquired by the Trust for the National Mall.

Following the current state of the garden, deputy press secretary Judd Deere said taxpayers won’t be footing the bill for re-sodding costs.

The Rose Garden was reportedly not in good shape after it was water-logged because of the First Lady’s rushed renovations.

The White House has yet to announce when the Rose Garden will be able to properly function.

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White House Rose Garden is already in need of repair after Melania Trump’s renovation: report

On August 22, First Lady Melania Trump hosted a private party to celebrate the unveiling of the renovated White House Rose Garden. But now, according to CNN, the renovated Rose Garden is already in need of repairs.

CNN’s Kate Bennett reports that according to a source who is knowledgeable of the Rose Garden’s problems, it is suffering from “issues with water drainage” as well as “some minor complications with updated construction.”

Deputy White House Press Secretary Judd Deere told CNN that in the Rose Garden, “The sod is being replaced at no cost to taxpayers.” And an official for President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign told CNN that the campaign will be paying for the repairs.

“The cost of the re-sod of the Rose Garden was not revealed,” according to Bennett. “The campaign is also paying for repairs and replacement sod for the South Lawn, which was also damaged by events for the Republican National Convention.”

The first lady first announced in late July that she was overseeing the renovation of the Rose Garden. The renovation she had in mind, according to Bennett, “followed the guidelines from the Garden’s original 1962 layout, but the update was largely panned by critics for looking substantially altered.”

“Most discussed was the removal of 10 crabapple trees,” Bennett notes. “The trees, which over the years had been replaced and were not the Kennedy-era originals, were transported to a National Park Service facility for care. According to a White House official, they will be replanted elsewhere on the grounds in the near future.”

The Trump White House, Bennett reports, has not said when the Rose Garden will be fully functional again.

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Rose Garden Before & After Melania Trump’s Changes [Photos]

Rose Garden Before & After


Getty

First Lady Melania Trump’s Rose Garden Renovation/Former President Bill Clinton in the Rose Garden.

First Lady Melania Trump unveiled her changes to the White House Rose Garden this weekend, leading to backlash and questions of whether she ruined the iconic spot. She said in a statement she hoped to better reflect the garden’s design in 1962, completed partly under the direction of Jackie Kennedy.

One prime source of discontent was the removal of the crabapple trees. However, although some on social media said they were cut down, they were removed to be replanted elsewhere on the White House grounds, according to USA Today. Read more about the rose garden and its history here.

Read on to see photos of the White House Rose Garden over the decades featuring every president from George H.W. Bush to Barack Obama.

Here’s what you need to know:


Photos of the White House Rose Garden Before Melania Trump’s Changes

The White House Rose Garden has long been a favorite spot for press events, tours with leaders of other countries and photo opportunities. Here are some photos of the rose garden featuring past presidents.

Rose Garden Before & After

GettyU.S. President George Bush gestures toward reporters during an outdoor press conference in the White House Rose Garden 10 April, 1992. Standing next to a magnolia tree in full bloom, President Bush said he has ordered his campaign workers to “stay out of the sleaze business”. (J. DAVID AKE/AFP via Getty Images)

Former President George H. W. Bush addresses reporters in a press conference in the rose garden in 1992.

“Protecting the historic integrity of the White House landscape is a considerable responsibility, and we will fulfill our duty as custodians of the public trust,” Melania Trump wrote in a report when the renovations were announced.

Rose Garden Before & After

GettyWASHINGTON, : U.S. President Bill Clinton (L) walks with Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa (R) past apple trees adjacent to the Rose Garden at the White House 16 April 1993. Clinton and Miyazawa discussed economic issues during their meeting in the Oval Office. (LUKE FRAZZA/AFP via Getty Images)

Former President Bill Clinton gives a tour of the White House Rose Garden to Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa in 1993, walking passed the rose garden’s iconic crabapple trees.

Rose Garden Before & After

GettyWASHINGTON, : US President Bill Clinton (R), using his crutch as a pointer, shows Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto various flowers and trees during a tour of the Rose Garden at the White House 25 April. Clinton and Hashimoto met earlier 25 April to discuss US efforts to persuade North Korea to enter into peace negotiations with South Korea and other issues. (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP via Getty Images)

Clinton points out aspects of the rose garden during a White House tour with Hashimoto. The White House Rose Garden has been a popular spot for tours with foreign leaders.

Rose Garden Before & After

GettyWASHINGTON, : US

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