Trump tweeted to encourage the media “to focus & report on the nation’s drug crisis, not on delusional & malicious gossip,” and said she plans to host a roundtable with people in substance use recovery and supporting organizations.
The White House did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment on whether Trump’s mention of “delusional & malicious gossip” was a direct reference to Stephanie Winston Wolkoff’s tell-all book, “Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship With the First Lady.” The book, which the White House has called “revisionist history,” was published Tuesday with new revelations about the author’s 15-year friendship with the first lady and the current administration.
Winston Wolkoff, who helped organize President Donald Trump’s inauguration, confirmed on Tuesday that she had secretly taped her conversations with Melania Trump after she was publicly spurned by the White House. The former adviser, who was not a paid staff member at the White House, did not reveal the contents of those recordings. However, reports indicated last week that the tapes involved the first lady making disparaging comments about her family, including stepdaughter Ivanka Trump.
Winston Wolkoff also alleged that Melania Trump regularly used private email accounts to conduct government business ― something many officials in the president’s orbit have been criticized for doing, and something he regularly attacked 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton for doing as secretary of state. The former adviser told The Washington Post that she didn’t include details of Melania Trump’s personal email use in the book because she “just had so much” to write about and preferred to concentrate on the story of her personal interactions with the first lady.
The Post said it reviewed several messages dated after the inauguration that appeared to be from the first lady. The messages reportedly included details about government contracts, presidential schedules during state visits and financial details of the inauguration. The first lady does not hold a government position, but the Post reported that all government business must be conducted under a White House email address to ensure the records are safely maintained.
The Trumps’ relationship with Winston Wolkoff soured after reports in 2018 that the inauguration committee paid almost $26 million to her company ― and $1.62 million to her personally, according to The New York Times. Winston Wolkoff said she began recording her conversations with Melania Trump in February 2018 out of fear of becoming the “fall guy” should the investigation into inauguration spending grow more serious, according to the Post.
“Melania and the White House had accused me of criminal activity, had publicly shamed and fired me, and made me their scapegoat. At that moment in time, that’s when I pressed record,” the former adviser told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Tuesday. “She was no longer my friend. And she was willing to let them take me down, and she told me herself, ‘This is the way it has to be.’”