The Justice Department says author Stephanie Winston Wolkoff violated the terms of a non-disclosure agreement–and shouldn’t receive any of the profits from her book.
The Justice Department has filed an unprecedented lawsuit against Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former friend and adviser to First Lady Melania Trump.
According to CNN, government attorneys allege that Wolkoff violated the terms of a confidentiality agreement by publishing a “tell-all” book about Melania Trump and the White House. The lawsuit states that Wolkoff never obtained permission from the First Lady or any White House officials to publish a book, and neither did she submit a draft for approval prior to publication.
While the Justice Department had not replied to CNN’s request for comment by the end of the work week, Wolkoff and her representatives have called the federal government’s case “intimidation.”
“The President and the First Lady’s use of the U.S. Department of Justice to silence me is a violation of my First Amendment Rights and a blatant abuse of the government to pursue their own personal interests and goals,” Wolkoff said in a statement. “I fulfilled all of the terms of the Gratuitous Service Agreement and the confidentiality provisions ended when the White House terminated the agreement. With the publication of my book, ‘Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of my Friendship with the First Lady,’ I have exercised my right to free expression.”
Wolkoff’s book, says CNN, details her relationship with Melania Trump; it also includes excerpts from private conversations between the two.
However, Melania Trump has made some efforts to distance herself from Wolkoff, going so far as to say that she “hardly knew” the woman.
NBC News notes that Trump described her long-time friend “as a person who said she ‘made me’ even though she hardly knew me, and someone who clung to me after my husband won the presidency. This is a woman who secretly recorded our phone calls, releasing portions from me that were out of context, then wrote a book of idle gossip trying to distort my character.”
‘Melania and Me,’ adds NBC, is “filled with embarrassing episodes involving the First Lady.” In one conversation, for instance, Melania Trump purportedly mocked “princess” Ivanka Trump; in another, she downplayed the effect of President Donald Trump’s policy of family separations at the.S.-Mexico border.
Melania Trump was also recorded complaining about having to decorate the White House, asking “who gives a fuck about the Christmas stuff and decorations?”
In her defense, Wolkoff says she felt she had no choice but to begin recording Melania after she felt threatened by the Trump administration.
“Melania and the White House had accused me of criminal activity, and publicly shamed and fired me and made me their scapegoat,” she said. “At that moment, that’s when I pressed record. She was no longer my friend.”
While the Justice Department cannot force Wolkoff’s book out of publication, government attorneys are asking that any profits Wolkoff receives be rerouted and secured to a government trust.