The estranged close friend of Melania Trump who wrote a tell-all book has brushed off criticism that she barely knew the first lady.
Earlier this year, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff authored the insider book Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with the First Lady, which revealed Trump’s beliefs about the children of immigrants separated from their parents at the border, her icy relationship with Ivanka Trump, and her disdain for some ceremonial first lady duties.
On Thursday, Melania Trump released a scathing statement about her former friend, saying Wolkoff “hardly knew me,” and “clung to me” after Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016.
In a statement on Saturday first shared with The Daily Beast, Wolkoff pushed back on the first lady’s assertion, pointing out that she attended her wedding and often stayed with the first family.
“I find it puzzling that the First Lady of the United States asked someone she ‘hardly knew’ to attend her nuptials, join her for countless lunches, help plan the presidential inauguration, stay over at the White House and Mar-a-Lago, and act as her senior advisor,” she said.
She continued: “I wrote this book to share with the public my experience of working with Melania, our fifteen-year friendship, and her ultimate betrayal. This portrait is not all flattering but it’s the truth and Americans deserve the truth about the occupants of the White House.”
The 49-year-old former top Vogue staffer was friends with Melania Trump for years, lunching with her in Manhattan, and occasionally attending the same social events. Wolkoff was Melania Trump’s first hire in the White House, but left following reports that her firm was paid $26 million to help plan the inauguration. According to Wolkoff, the relationship soured after the first lady refused to defend her following the inauguration revelations.
Earlier this week, the Department of Justice announced that it was suing Wolkoff, arguing she broke a non-disclosure agreement and failed to submit a draft of her book to the federal government for pre-publication review. Former government officials occasionally submit books to the federal government to screen for classified information, though observers pointed out that Wolkoff did not have access to classified information during her time working in the White House.
In recent months, the DOJ has taken the somewhat unusual step of taking legal action against the authors of several former Trump officials who have written unflattering books about the current White House.
In June, the department sued former national security advisor John Bolton, attempting to block the release of his book The Room Where It Happened, which criticized Trump at length, and detailed the president’s attempts to halt aid to Ukraine until the country agreed to investigate the Biden family. The Justice Department has also attempted to replace Trump’s personal lawyers in a defamation suit writer E. Jean Carroll recently brought against Trump, who she accused of raping her in the 1990s.