politics

From "princess" Ivanka to the Obama's toilet: 6 revelations from the new Melania Trump book.

To the outside world, First Lady of the United States Melania Trump comes across as somewhat of a steely figure, little heard and little seen.

This enigmatic quality has inspired a raft of 'tell-all' books that each promise to provide insight into the 'real' Melania. 

But the latest comes courtesy of the best-placed source yet: her former advisor and best friend, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff.


Video via ABC News


"Melania and Me": How the friendship turned sour. 

Wolkoff met the now-first lady in 2003 while working as a PR manager at Vogue. Then, the Slovenian-born woman was simply Melania Knauss — an up-and-coming model.

The pair struck up a 15-year friendship that came undone after Wolkoff took a role as a senior advisor to the Trump team in 2016 and then unpaid advisor to the first lady; a decision she now describes as "the worst mistake" of her life.

It all fell apart over Wolkoff's role in Donald Trump's 2017 presidential inauguration.

Wolkoff, an experienced event planner who'd been a producer for several Met Galas, was hired to coordinate the January 17 event. 

At a cost of $US107 million ($145 million), it turned out to be the most expensive inauguration in history — twice that staged for Trump's predecessor, President Barack Obama. Naturally, the press began to raise questions about the event, which was financed using a mix of taxpayer funds and private donations. And it all came to a head when the New York Times reported that a whopping $27 million of the bill went to Wolkoff's firm.

Wolkoff, who claims she personally took home just US$480,000, has alleged that she was served up as a scapegoat by the White House because she had repeatedly raised concerns about the budget.

She's barely spoken to Melania Trump since: "When the time came where I needed her to come out and tell the truth about that, she honestly folded like a deck of cards," Wolkoff told ABC News.

Stephanie Winston Wolkoff. Image: Getty.

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Her new book Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with the First Lady was released today, September 1, and contains glimpses of the woman she came to know before and beyond the headlines.

"I can back up everything that's in the book 100 per cent," she told ABC News, "and Donald and Melania know that."

Here are five of Wolkoff's most noteworthy claims.

1. Melania Trump had a blasé attitude to her husband's affair and assault allegations.

"It's politics." 

According to Wolkoff, that's how Melania Trump brushed off questions about her husband's infamous boast to an Access Hollywood reporter that he could "do anything" with women, including "grab 'em by the pussy". The same retort was offered for questions about the pre-election non-disclosure payment made to porn star Stormy Daniels, who claimed to have had a 2006 affair with Donald Trump.

"I know who I married," Melania reportedly said.

Speaking to Good Morning America, Wolkoff claimed she ate lunch with Melania Trump on the day the Access Hollywood tape was released: "She was smiling, it was as if nothing happened... I said, 'Are you upset though, and doesn’t this get you angry that Donald would say something like this?' Melania is a pragmatist — if you can’t control people’s emotions, then why even worry about it. And that’s how she lived her life and that is what she stood by every day."

2. The president wanted his inauguration to look like a North Korean military parade.

Wolkoff alleges that when Donald Trump discussed his 2017 inauguration parade with her and his daughter, Ivanka Trump, he said: "I want tanks and choppers. Make it look like North Korea."

3. "Operation Block Princess": Melania's efforts to keep Ivanka out of the frame.

Wolkoff paints the relationship between Melania Trump and her stepdaughter, Ivanka, as an incredibly strained one. She quotes Melania referring to the White House advisor as a "princess" and alleges that Ivanka firmly requested to be positioned beside her father for the swearing-in ceremony at his inauguration.

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The result was "Operation Block Princess", a joint effort by Wolkoff and the first lady "to keep [Ivanka's] face out of that iconic 'special moment.'" 

Ivanka Trump (behind the Supreme Court Justice) was allegedly deliberately blocked from view. Image: Getty.


Seating plans were drawn up, factoring in camera angles, to ensure that the first daughter appeared on screen as little as possible.

"Yes, Operation Block Ivanka was petty. Melania was in on this mission," Wolkoff wrote. "But in our minds, Ivanka shouldn’t have made herself the centre of attention in her father’s inauguration."

4. The real reason for the grimace that inspired #freeMelania.

It was the grimace seen around the world. A single moment from the inauguration in which the new first lady's smile toward her husband suddenly dissolved into a frown the second he turned his back.

Critics celebrated the apparent slight as a sign of marital tension ("Melania Trump Definitely Loves Her Husband and Is Very Happy to Be Here", a Jezebel headline quipped), and #freemelania began trending on social media as people jokingly called for her to "blink twice if you need saving".

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But Wolkoff claims there's a far less cutting explanation for Melania Trump's viral expression that day.

"Melania suddenly frowned and looked down and to her right because [her son] Barron had kicked her in the ankle by accident," she wrote.

When Wolkoff pressed her on why she didn't publicly set the record straight, the first lady reportedly replied, "I don’t owe them an explanation."

5. The first lady wouldn't move into the Whitehouse until the Obama's bathroom was replaced.

There's been plenty of speculation about why Melania Trump didn't move into the White House until five months after her husband's inauguration. The official message was that she wanted to wait until their son, Barron, had finished the school year. But a well-sourced book by Washington Post reporter, Mary Jordan, recently alleged the delay was due to renegotiations of her prenuptial agreement with the president.

Wolkoff has added another log to the fire by suggesting the first lady refused to live in the residence until renovations were completed to her exacting standard — particularly those on the shower and toilet.

6. Melania's stance on immigrant children being separated at the border.

At the height of the debate about Donald Trump's policy of separating and detaining children of immigrants at the US-Mexico border, Melania Trump reportedly told Wolkoff that authorities are "taking care nicely" of the children. (Yes, as in the children held in cages.)

"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?' It’s more than they have in their own country, where they sleep on the floor," Melania Trump allegedly said in a phone call.

Melania Trump's response.

Stephanie Grisham, Melania Trump’s chief of staff and spokesperson, has told various media that Wolkoff has played fast and loose with the facts.

"This book is not only wildly self-aggrandizing, it’s just not truthful. It is an exercise in bizarre twisting of the truth and misguided blame for the sake of self-pity," she said in a statement.

"It’s unfortunate and concerning that she’s overstated their friendship and her very brief role in the White House to this degree."

Feature image: Getty.

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