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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Pelosi: House to stay in session until COVID-19 rescue pact

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday the House will remain in session until lawmakers deliver another round of COVID-19 relief, a move that came as Democrats from swing districts signaled discontent with a standoff that could force them to face voters without delivering more aid.

“We are committed to staying here until we have an agreement, an agreement that meets the needs of the American people,” Pelosi said on CNBC.


Pelosi told her Democratic colleagues on a morning conference call that “we have to stay here until we have a bill.” That’s according to a Democratic aide speaking on condition of anonymity but authorized to quote her remarks.

The move highlighted the extent to which coronavirus legislation has settled into a kind of suspended animation in the final legislative weeks before the November election. Both parties insist they want action, keeping the idea of new relief alive, but negotiations between Democrats and the White House remain frozen, with both sides entrenched in their positions.



Pelosi’s comments came as moderate Democrats, many from areas won by President Donald Trump four years ago, signed on to a $1.5 trillion rescue package endorsed by the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, a group of about 50 lawmakers who seek common solutions to issues.


The plan contains many elements of COVID rescue packages devised by both House Democrats and Republicans controlling the Senate, including aid to schools, funding for state and local governments, and renewal of lapsed COVID-related jobless benefits.


The price tag is significantly less than the $2.2 trillion figure cited by Pelosi but it’s also well above an approximately $650 billion Senate GOP plan that failed last week due to Democratic opposition.

Talks between Pelosi and the Trump administration broke down last month and there had been little optimism they would rekindle before Election Day. And last week, Senate Democrats scuttled a scaled-back GOP coronavirus rescue package.

Pelosi has maintained a hard line in negotiations and has been at odds with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. She orchestrated passage of a $3.4 trillion COVID rescue package back in May, but the effort was immediately dismissed by Senate Republicans and the Trump administration.


Tuesday’s remarks, said Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill, don’t mean that the speaker is adopting a more flexible position. She instead seems to be signaling

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House to stay in session until COVID-19 rescue pact

WASHINGTON (AP) — Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday the House will remain in session until lawmakers deliver another round of COVID-19 relief.



House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., center, walks to her office, Monday, Sept. 14, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)


© Provided by Associated Press
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., center, walks to her office, Monday, Sept. 14, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Pelosi told her Democratic colleagues on a morning conference call that “we have to stay here until we have a bill.” That’s according to a Democratic aide speaking on condition of anonymity but authorized to quote her remarks.

Pelosi’s comments came as moderate Democrats signed on to a $1.5 trillion rescue package endorsed by the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, a group of about 50 lawmakers who seek common solutions to issues.

The plan contains many elements of COVID rescue packages devised by both House Democrats and Republicans controlling the Senate, including aid to schools, funding for state and local governments, and renewal of lapsed COVID-related jobless benefits.



House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., walks to her office, Monday, Sept. 14, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)


© Provided by Associated Press
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., walks to her office, Monday, Sept. 14, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Talks between Pelosi and the Trump administration broke down last month and there had been little optimism they would rekindle before Election Day. And last week, Senate Democrats scuttled a scaled-back GOP coronavirus rescue package.



House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., right, walks to her office, Monday, Sept. 14, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)


© Provided by Associated Press
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., right, walks to her office, Monday, Sept. 14, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

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U.S. House Speaker warns Britain that breaking Brexit treaty could imperil trade pact

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned Britain on Wednesday that ignoring some parts of its European Union divorce treaty could imperil any new trade agreement with the United States.

“If the U.K. violates that international treaty and Brexit undermines the Good Friday accord, there will be absolutely no chance of a U.S.-U.K. trade agreement passing the Congress,” the Democratic lawmaker said in a statement.

“The Good Friday Agreement is treasured by the American people and will be proudly defended in the United States Congress,” Pelosi said.

Britain quit the EU in January but has remained part of its single market, largely free of trade barriers, under an agreement that expires in December. London says that if it cannot negotiate a favorable trade deal to take effect from Jan. 1, it will simply walk away.

The agreement calls for border-free trade on the island of Ireland, which the EU says should in some cases require checks on goods passing between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain.

Some fear that a failure to agree on border arrangements could jeopardize the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which largely ended three decades of political and sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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Serbia, Kosovo sign economic pact at White House

Former foes Kosovo and Serbia have agreed on a historic pact to normalize economic relations, US President Donald Trump announced Friday at the White House.

And in a fresh diplomatic success for the US leader, both Kosovo and Serbia also agreed to improve their relations with Israel — Kosovo will formally recognize the Jewish state and Serbia will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. 

“A truly historic day,” Trump said, with Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic sitting beside him in the Oval Office.

“By focusing on job creation and economic growth, the two countries were able to reach a real breakthrough on economic cooperation across a broad range of issues.”

Trump praised his special emissary Richard Grenell for bringing the two sides together, two decades after they fought a bloody war that left 13,000 dead. 

“It took decades because you didn’t have anybody trying to get it done,” Trump said of the agreement.

“There was a lot of fighting and now there’s a lot of love,” he said. “Economics can bring people together.”

Speaking to reporters in the White House, Vucic said Trump had done a “great job,” praising his commitment to the Balkan region, while Hoti called it a big step forward — though neither Serbia nor its former territory formally recognize the other.

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci hailed the agreement in a statement, praising Trump for advancing the cause “of peace, economic development and Euro-Atlantic future.”

Kosovo, which declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, “must now continue to work for membership in international organizations and for new recognitions, for our country to be fully consolidated domestically and internationally,” he wrote.

Details of the agreement were not immediately available, but it was expected to be limited to the normalization of some economic ties, easing commerce and opening up road, rail and air links between the former Balkan war foes.

The talks included representatives of major US economic aid agencies including the Export-Import Bank, suggesting US financial support was involved in bringing the two sides together.

The European Union has brokered talks for nearly a decade to thaw the bitter relationship between Serbia and its former territory, but many of the agreements they set have not been implemented.

An effort focused on business and commerce was launched more recently by US officials.

But Serbia made clear during the talks that it would not go as far as recognizing Kosovo as a fully-fledged state.

The Kosovo-Serbia pact, and their agreements to improve relations with Israel, added to Trump’s recent record of diplomatic successes.

Last month, Israel and the United Arab Emirates announced they would normalize relations after US-brokered negotiations.  

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Serbia, Kosovo Expected To Sign Pact At White House

Serbia and Kosovo are expected to sign an agreement on opening economic relations at the White House Friday, giving President Donald Trump the opportunity to claim a new diplomatic victory for his administration.

Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic are scheduled to sign the pact at 11:00 am (1500 GMT) with Trump in attendance after a day of negotiations in Washington on Thursday, according to the White House.

The agreement is expected to be limited to the normalization of some economic ties, including possibly opening up road, rail and air links between the former Balkan war foes.

Although the European Union has been trying without success for nearly a decade to thaw a bitter relationship between Serbia and its former territory, which declared independence in 2008, an effort focused on business and commerce was launched more recently by US officials.

But Serbia made clear during the talks that they would not go as far as recognizing Kosovo as a fully-fledged state.

White House National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said late Thursday that the two sides had “made real progress today.”

Newly elected Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti (L) and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic (R) are expected to sign agreements on opening economic relations after a day of talks in Washington Newly elected Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti (L) and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic (R) are expected to sign agreements on opening economic relations after a day of talks in Washington Photo: AFP / Armend NIMANI

“Economic normalization means jobs for young people,” he said.

Hoti said Thursday they had made “great progress” on improving economic cooperation.

Vucic insisted that he would not accept anything that included recognizing Kosovo.

“We thought it should not be in a document about economic normalization, that we couldn’t accept it. People from the Trump cabinet listened (to) what we had to say, they were fair and I believe that in other documents that article is no longer there,” he said.

The two countries remain bitter over a bloody war fought two decades ago, in which 13,000 died.

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