Melania Trump’s former best friend has claimed that the first lady’s marriage to President Donald Trump is a ‘transactional’ trade in which he gets ‘arm candy’ and she gets security.
‘I do believe it’s a transactional marriage. Donald got arm candy,’ said Stephanie Winston Wolkoff in an interview with the BBC on Friday.
‘Melania got two dynamic decades. She was a young model, she didn’t have success yet. She met Donald, she married, she became an American citizen, they had a son and ten years after that she’s the first lady of the United States,’ Wolkoff said.
‘I do believe it was a magic moment, and I also believe it was a made-for-TV moment.’
Donald Trump and Melania Knauss were married in January 2005 in Palm Beach, Florida, where the reception was held at Mar-a-Lago. It was Trump’s third marriage, and the couple have one son, Barron, together.
In the interview, Wolkoff also referenced Melania’s appearance on the cover of Vogue in a February 2005 feature on the wedding, a major coup for the then-professional model.
‘The Vogue cover legitimized Melania, legitimized Donald as well,’ said Wolkoff.
Wolkoff has been hitting the interview circuit to promote her new book, Melania And Me, which hit #3 on the USA Today bestseller list this week.
Melania Trump has slammed her former friend, dismissing her claims as ‘delusional & malicious gossip’ in a tweet that did not mention Wolkoff by name.
The first lady has increased her national profile in the past week as her husband enters the final phase of his re-election campaign. She addressed the Republican National Convention last month as part of her effort to win President Donald Trump a second term.
On Thursday at the White House she hosted a ‘Recovery at Work: Celebrating Connections’ Roundtable to talk about drug addiction and recovery.
‘The coronavirus pandemic has increased feelings of loneliness and sadness. For vulnerable populations, it has also increased the risk of substance abuse. But the American people are strong and always set-up to help one another in times of need. My husband and this Administration are also committed to making sure no one is left behind and the forgotten man and woman are forgotten no more,’ she said.
But she’s also seen numerous headlines surrounding the publication of Stephanie Winston Wolkoff’s memoir ‘Melania & Me.’
Wolkoff, who worked on the Trump inauguration and as an unpaid adviser in the East Wing in the early days of the administration, offered details on the tense relationship between Melania Trump and her stepdaughter Ivanka Trump.
She also revealed Melania uses a private email account, which President Trump criticized Hillary Clinton for doing during their bitter 2016 campaign.
Wolkoff told The Washington Post: ‘Melania and I both didn’t use White House emails.’
The first lady is said to have used a private Trump Organization email account and an email from a MelaniaTrump.com domain as well as iMessage.
The messages were said to show her discussing government hires, state visits and schedules, the Easter egg roll and her Be Best initiative.
The East Wing said Melania Trump has followed the requirements of the Presidential Records Act.
‘In consultation with White House ethics officials, from the beginning of the Administration, the First Lady and her staff have taken steps to meet the standard of the Presidential Records Act, relating to the preservation of records that adequately document official activities,’ Stephanie Grisham, chief of staff to the first lady, said in a statement.
In 2018 The Washington Post reported that Ivanka Trump sent hundreds of emails about government business from a personal email account to White House aides, Cabinet members and her assistant.
Ivanka dismissed any comparison to the use of private email by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which prompted an FBI investigation and inspired the ‘Lock Her Up’ chant at Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign rallies.
Use of personal emails is allowed but it is illegal to discuss anything classified.
Wolkoff also admitted to recording her conversations with Melania, but defended doing so, saying she did it for protection.
She told The Post she started recording Melania in February 2018 until they stopped talking or texting on Jan. 1, 2019.
She said she decided to do so the day after the White House terminated her contract, out of fear of becoming a ‘fall guy’ amid scrutiny of inaugural spending intensified.
‘I didn’t record a friend. I would never record a friend,’ Winston Wolkoff told The Post. ‘But — this is very important — she was no longer my friend when I pressed record.
Wolkoff left the East Wing in February 2018 after The New York Times, in February 2018, published an article revealing the inauguration cost $107 million – twice what Barack Obama’s first inauguration cost – and that Wolkoff’s firm received $26 million of that money.
Most of that money went to vendors Wolkoff’s firm hired to produce the events.
Wolkoff argues the story was planted by her enemies in the White House and by those who didn’t want to answer to the where much of the inaugural money went.
‘That’s the question that everyone should be asking,’ she told ABC News last week of the $107 million raised.
She said she received $480,000 for her three months of work on the inauguration – ‘a fee of less than one half of one-percent.’
Her memoir details her 15-year friendship with Melania, who she first met while she was working at Vogue magazine.
It’s the first book about Melania Trump to emerge from her inner circle and Wolkoff charts a disillusionment with the first lady, writing that she thought Melania was different but realized ‘A Trump is a Trump is a Trump. All along, I thought she was one of us. Bat at her core, she’s one of them.’
There are several gossipy bits in the 339-page book, including the revelation Melania laughed during the 2016 campaign after the infamous ‘Access Hollywood’ tape came out and revealed Trump saying he liked to grab women ‘by the p****.’
Wolkoff claims the first lady also scoffed at Michelle Obama’s time in office. She reportedly once said ‘Did Michelle Obama go to the border? She never did. Show me the pictures!’
The book also paints an unflattering portrait of Ivanka Trump, showing her as eager to run the show and claiming she was trying take over many of Melania’s first lady duties.
‘Ivanka was very focused on Ivanka,’ Wolkoff writes.
The White House has disputed much that is in the book, arguing Wolkoff has some ‘imagined need for revenge.’
‘Anybody who secretly tapes their self-described best friend is by definition, dishonest,’ Grisham told DailyMail.com in a statement last week. ‘The book is not only full of mistruths and paranoia, it it is based on some imagined need for revenge. Wolkoff builds herself up while belittling and blaming everyone she worked with, yet she still managed to be the victim. Sadly, this is a deeply insecure woman whose need to be relevant defies logic.’