Melania Trump’s former friend and adviser says she was ‘thrown under the bus’ to ‘protect’ the first lady

Melania Trump’s former friend and adviser says she was ‘thrown under the bus’ to ‘protect’ the first lady

Stephanie Winston Wolkoff (pictured with Melania and Donald Trump and her husband, David Wolkoff, in 2008) says she was treated unfairly by the White House. (Photo: BILLY FARRELL/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

Stephanie Grisham told the New York Times that the East Wing had “severed the gratuitous services contract” with Winston Wolkoff in the wake of scrutiny over extravagant spending for Trump’s 2017 inauguration. The paper had previously reported that an event planning firm set up by Winston Wolkoff, a former Vogue employee who once oversaw fashion events like the Met Gala, received $26 million from President Trump‘s nonprofit inaugural committee to plan two celebrations for his big day.’ data-reactid=”32″>Last February, first lady spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham told the New York Times that the East Wing had “severed the gratuitous services contract” with Winston Wolkoff in the wake of scrutiny over extravagant spending for Trump’s 2017 inauguration. The paper had previously reported that an event planning firm set up by Winston Wolkoff, a former Vogue employee who once oversaw fashion events like the Met Gala, received $26 million from President Trump‘s nonprofit inaugural committee to plan two celebrations for his big day.

News of the hefty price tag prompted backlash for the Trumps, though Grisham insisted at the time that the first lady had “no knowledge of how funds were spent.”

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Winston Wolkoff has accused the first lady’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, of making “misleading” statements about her exit. (Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

While Winston Wolkoff, who is cooperating with federal prosecutors, can’t disclose financial terms, she is speaking out about how her departure was handled. She says that the first lady and then-deputy White House counsel Stefan Passantino assured her last February that her contract being terminated was “not personal,” but rather a formality applying to “all” employees with “gratuitous service agreements.”

But White House officials, she says, made remarks that suggested otherwise, linking her exit to outcry over the inauguration scandal. She singled out Grisham’s comment about her contract being “severed,” which Winston Wolkoff calls a “misleading statement.”

“A decision was made to state publicly that I had been ‘severed,’ Winston Wolkoff told the paper of Grisham’s remarks. “That was not fair or accurate … [Grisham] informed me that she had consulted with others within the White House and it was decided that ‘this messaging is the best way to go in order to minimize the negative press stories of today and protect’ [the first lady and the White House].”

“The White House ended Mrs. Wolkoff’s contract, period,” Grisham, who is marking the first anniversary of the first lady’s Be Best campaign on Tuesday, said in a statement. “I’m not going to waste my time arguing the semantics of what the word ‘severed’ means simply because someone decided to run to the media with hurt feelings and a bruised ego. As stated more than a year ago, I wish Mrs. Wolkoff well.”

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