Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, the former friend of US First Lady Melania Trump who has written an unflattering tell-all book about the Trump family, gave an explosive interview on US television overnight.
Ms Winston Wolkoff, a high profile event planner, was close friends with Mrs Trump for about 15 years. She fell out with the First Lady after helping to produce President Donald Trump’s $US107 million inauguration in 2017.
The event was dogged by allegations of funds being misused – there was even a federal investigation into it – and Ms Winston Wolkoff felt she was made a scapegoat for decisions made by Mr Trump and his staff.
Now she is releasing the gazillionth book of the Trump presidency, which is titled Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with The First Lady.
Last week it was reported that Ms Winston Wolkoff’s book was, in part, based on secret audio recordings of the First Lady, in which Mrs Trump criticised her husband and other members of the family.
Appearing on Good Morning America today, Ms Winston Wolkoff refused to confirm or deny that report.
“I can back up everything that’s in the book, 100 per cent,” she said.
“With audiotapes?” interviewer Linsey Davis prodded.
“I can back up the book. There’s nothing in the book that I can’t back up. Not one word. And Donald and Melania know that,” Ms Winston Wolkoff replied.
We should note that Mrs Trump’s spokeswoman and chief of staff, Stephanie Grisham, issued a scathing statement in response to the interview.
“Anybody who secretly tapes their self-described best friend is by definition dishonest,” Ms Grisham said.
“The book is full of mistruths and paranoia, and clearly based on some imagined need for revenge.”
Ms Winston Wolkoff’s core grievance with the Trumps is that they failed to defend her when The New York Times reported her firm had been paid more than $US26 million for its role in the inauguration.
She told Good Morning America that, in fact, only $1.62 million went to her company.
When the controversy erupted, Mrs Trump said she had “no involvement” in the inaugural committee and “no knowledge of how funds were spent”.
“When the time came for her to come and speak the truth about a friend who left everything behind to help her, she turned her back on me, stabbed me in the back,” Ms Winston Wolkoff said.
“I gave Melania the benefit of the doubt that she was my friend, (that) she was different than Donald was, (that) she was different from the other Trump children.
“And now?” Davis asked.
“Oh, a Trump is a Trump is a Trump,” she replied.
“The Melania I first met versus the Melania there is today is a very different person.”
Ms Winston Wolkoff met Mrs Trump when she was single, before she linked up with the future president.
One of the interview’s most intriguing moments focused on what you might have expected – wrongly, it seems – to be a tumultuous moment in the Trumps’ relationship.
That moment came during the 2016 election campaign, when the footage emerged of Mr Trump bragging about being able to grab women “by the p***y”, among other things.
“The day that the Access Hollywood tape came out, she had reached out to me to have lunch. Now, if any other human being or any other one of my friends – I would have expected to see them in tears. Right?” said Ms Winston Wolkoff.
“She was smiling. It was as if nothing had happened. And I swear to you, I had like a glitch in my brain. I was like, ‘Is this really happening at this moment?’
“Is it surreal that her husband just came out and said these horrible things? And I said to her, ‘How many times have you heard the words p***y and president in the same sentence?’ And then we burst out laughing.
“But then I said to her though, ‘Are you upset? And doesn’t this get you angry, that Donald would say something like this?’ And Melania’s a pragmatist. Melania always – you know, if you can’t control people’s emotions, then why even worry about it?
“And that’s how she lived her life. That is what she stood by every day.”
Ms Winston Wolkoff’s book reportedly goes into some detail regarding a feud between Mrs Trump and her daughter-in-law, Ivanka Trump.
She told GMA Ivanka had approached her during the planning process for the inauguration and tried to score a prime position next to her father.
“You don’t do that to the First Lady of the United States of America. You do not try to position yourself (as) more important,” Ms Winston Wolkoff said.
“And Melania was not having that. She looked at me and she said, ‘You mean who, Princess?’ And we both started laughing hysterically, because Ivanka turned into the princess who wanted to be queen.
“We figured out how to make sure that Barron was in between Donald and Melania, and that to Melania’s right would be Donald Jr. And that Ivanka would be next.”
Melania and Me is due to be published tomorrow.