First lady Melania Trump pushed back Friday on her former friend and adviser who recently released a tell-all book and covert recordings of the first lady, blasting the moves as “an attempt to be relevant.”
In a blog post on the White House website, Trump also chastised media coverage of the book from Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, claiming that news outlets “chose to focus their coverage on pettiness over my positive work” as first lady.
Winston Wolkoff knew Trump for around a decade before becoming an unpaid adviser in the East Wing and overseeing planning for President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
A longtime Manhattan fashion and society party planner, Winston Wolkoff left the White House in February 2018 when The New York Times raised questions about how she profited from her role in planning the inauguration.
Winston Wolkoff’s book casts Melania Trump as selfish and obsessed with her image, but also defends her work on the inauguration. In the memoir, Winston Wolkoff claims that Melania Trump has an icy relationship with the president’s oldest daughter, Ivanka, and even went so far as plotting with Winston Wolkoff to ensure that Ivanka Trump did not appear in photos of her father’s swearing in.
It also claims that the first lady did not want to move to the White House right away in part because she didn’t want to have to use the same shower and toilet as former first lady Michelle Obama and was waiting for the bathroom to be renovated, and that now-press secretary Kayleigh McEnany was interested in becoming her chief of staff.
The first lady’s chief of staff Stephanie Grisham has slammed the memoir, calling it “not only wildly self-aggrandizing, it’s just not truthful.”
But Melania Trump responded personally to Winston Wolkoff’s allegations for the first time, blasting her former friend and asserting that the memoir distracts from Trump’s policy aims as first lady, which include combating cyberbullying among kids.
“As a country, we cannot continue to get lost in the noise of negativity and encourage ambition by those who seek only to promote themselves,” she wrote.
“I have most recently found this to be the case as major news outlets eagerly covered salacious claims made by a former contractor who advised my office. A person who said she ‘made me’ even though she hardly knew me, and someone who clung to me after my husband won the Presidency,” Trump continued.
After falling somewhat quiet after the August release of her book, Winston Wolkoff made headlines again several weeks ago with the release of recorded conversations in which the first lady complains about criticism of the Trump administration’s policy of separating immigrant children from their parents and about decorating the White House for Christmas.
Those recordings were quickly pushed out of the news cycle hours later by the president’s announcement that he and Melania had both tested positive for coronavirus, and by the president’s transfer to the hospital.
On Friday, the first lady argued that the recordings had been taken out of context.
“This is a woman who secretly recorded our phone calls, releasing portions from me that were out of context, then wrote a book of idle gossip trying to distort my character. Her ‘memoir’ included blaming me for her ailing health from an accident she had long ago, and for bad news coverage that she brought upon herself and others,” Melania Trump wrote. “Never once looking within at her own dishonest behavior and all in an attempt to be relevant. These kinds of people only care about their personal agenda—not about helping others.”
The post from the first lady is her second this week stemming from her recovery from coronavirus. On Wednesday, Trump penned an update on her coronavirus experience and revealed that the first couple’s 14-year-old son had also been diagnosed with and recovered from coronavirus earlier this month.
Last week the Justice Department sued Winston Wolkoff, claiming that she had breached a nondisclosure agreement and demanding that all profits from sales of the book be put in a government-held trust.
Winston Wolkoff slammed the lawsuit as a violation of her First Amendment rights. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday’s blog post.
Daniel Lippman contributed to this report.
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