Melania Trump’s once-close friend, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, acknowledged to both the Washington Post and to Rachel Maddow Tuesday that she has extensive recordings of the first lady saying, among other things, that young immigrant children separated from their parents at the U.S. border were excited about their accommodations in federal detention.
“They’re not with their parents, and it’s sad. But the patrols told me the kids say, ‘Wow, I get a bed? I will have a cabinet for my clothes?’” Melania Trump said, according to Winston Wolkoff’s her new book, “Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with the First Lady.”
“It’s more than they have in their own country where they sleep on the floor,” Melania said. “They are taking care nicely there.”
Winston Wolkoff also apparently has recordings of the outwardly elegant, composed and guarded Melania Trump dropping f-bombs to complain how Vogue magazine would never put her on its cover, how people are jealous of her because she still looks “good,” and how she gets criticized even when she fulfills the first lady’s traditional duties of overseeing the White House Christmas decorations.
“They hate (Donald) so much, they hate on me, too. No matter what I say or do,” Melania Trump is quoted as saying in Winston Wolkoff’s book. “They say I’m complicit, so I work on Christmas stuff. Who gives a (expletive) about decorations?”
Winston Wolkoff’s tell-all about Melania Trump, released Tuesday, dishes plenty about the first lady’s “selfish,” “queen”-like personality and her complicated relationship with her allegedly philandering husband, President Donald Trump, and her rivalry with stepdaughter Ivanka Trump. Winston Wolkoff, a veteran events planner for Vogue magazine, enjoyed a close, 15-year friendship with Melania Trump that began when the first lady was Trump’s Slovenian-born model girlfriend.
The book is making news because Winston Wolkoff offers a detailed, insider’s account of potential crimes associated with the fundraising and spending on Trump’s January 2017 inauguration. Winston Wolkoff was hired to help organize events for the inauguration. Several local and federal investigations are underway, and Winston Wolkoff says she is cooperating.
In a Washington Post report published Tuesday, Winston Wolkoff said that Melania Trump used a private Trump Organization email account while conducting business in the White House. Winston Wolkoff worked for the first lady as an unpaid White House adviser but was unceremoniously ousted from the job after, she says, the Trump family set her up as scapegoat in media reports about “the inauguration shenanigans.”
Winston Wolkoff has said she felt “betrayed” by Melania Trump. She hoped her friend would publicly defend her against the reports, which she said falsely suggested that she had improperly pocketed $26 million for her work on inauguration. Instead, Melania Trump blew off her concerns.
Winston Wolkoff told the Washington Post and Rachel Maddow that she felt she needed to protect herself legally, so she started to record her conversations with the first lady, starting in early 2018. She agreed that she could be called “a horrible” person for recording a friend without that friend’s knowledge, but she felt Melania Trump had stopped being her friend.
“Melania and the White House accused me of criminal activity and publicly shamed and fired me and made me their scapegoat,” Winston Wolkoff told Maddow on the Tuesday night show. “At that moment, I pressed record. She was no longer my friend.”
The issue of Winston Wolkoff recording Melania Trump came up on Maddow’s show when the host asked her about the first lady’s remarks in her book about immigrant children, who were separated from their parents under a Trump administration policy to deter future immigrants.
“These are seemingly pretty insensitive comments she made about the kids she met at the border,” Maddow said, asking if the comments were verbatim. Winston Wolkoff said they were.
Winston Wolkoff said in her book that Melania Trump’s remarks came during a 70-minute conversation that took place shortly after the first lady visited a Texas shelter for immigrant children on June 21, 2018.
The trip was for someone in the president’s inner circle to see how his administration’s policy was affecting immigrant children, but Melania Trump mostly provoked outrage for the now-infamous jacket she wore when leaving Washington: a $39 olive-green jacket with the words, “I really don’t care. Do U?” on the back. People wondered if she was sending a message to her husband, to Ivanka Trump or even to the children she was visiting.
But Melania Trump laughed and told Winston Wolkoff she wanted to needle the “liberals.” “I’m driving liberals crazy! You know what? They deserve it,” she said.
Melania Trump complained that the media likes to read too much into her fashion choices and was dismayed that reporters continued to question her own immigration history. That’s when she offered a defense of her husband’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policies.
“They don’t know what’s going on,” Melania Trump told Winston Wolkoff. “The kids I met were brought in by coyotes, the bad people who are trafficking, and that’s why the kids were put in shelters.”
Melania Trump also suggested that the mothers coached their children to falsely say they feared gang violence in their home countries so that they could stay in the United States. “They are using that line and it’s not true,” Melania Trump said.
Winston Wolkoff wrote that the first lady’s remarks left her feeling “queasy” because she sounded like she was regurgitating Trump administration rhetoric “about asylum-seeking mothers, ‘criminals and murderers,’ that the government rightfully should separate from their children.”
Melania Trump declared that Michelle Obama never went to visit children at the border, before abruptly “shifting gears” to ask Winston Wolkoff if she had gone to see the documentary about their one-time friend, former Vogue editor-at-large André Leon Talley.
“Is she really asking me if I’ve been to the movies?” Winston Wolkoff wrote with dismay. She noted she had largely been cut off from the fashion industry because she chose to work for Melania Trump.
Speaking of Vogue, Winston Wolkoff captured the first lady in a two-hour conversation in July 2018, lamenting the upcoming September issue of Vogue. The issue was guest edited by Beyonce and featured a photo of porn star Stormy Daniels, who says she had sex with Donald Trump in July 2006, several months after Melania Trump gave birth to Barron. Melania Trump referred to Daniels as “the porn hooker.”
“I’m so glad I didn’t do that profile in Vogue,” Melania Trump said, explaining she had a chance at a coveted Vogue cover but only if she agreed to be profiled in the magazine, according to Winston Wolkoff’s book. That’s when the first lady offered another f-bomb-laced statement about how she doesn’t care what people think about her — including those in the liberal fashion industry whom she once courted for publicity.
“Are you kidding me? I don’t give a (expletive) about Vogue or any other magazine,” the first lady said. “They would never put me on the cover. All these people are so mad. Some people say, ‘They’re all jealous. They want to be you.’ They cannot believe that (I still look good despite) all these designers who refused to dress me. Like I need their help. I don’t need to prove anything to anyone. My life will not change if I’m on the cover or not.”