Stephanie Winston, a former adviser and close personal friend of the first lady Melania Trump is now pulling down the curtain of the entire Trump family and exposing them as a callous clan tainted by "deceit" and "deception." Winston claims in her new book that she is STILL "working with investigators" to dig into potential financial crimes committed in connection with Donald Trump's inauguration in early 2017.
Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former adviser and close personal friend of the first lady Melania Trump new book "Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with the First Lady" is one of many books that will be released in the next 30 days by a major publisher that could have a decisive impact on the upcoming general election on November 3, 2020.
Appearing in an interview with ABC investigative reporter Linsey Davis Wolkoff just one day before the release of her book billed as a “blockbuster,” the first lady’s former best friend referred to days following Donald J. Trump’s election in 2017 said…
"It was amateur hour then, and its amateur hour now, and I think it's really frightening for our country,"
"Everyone does need to know what ... this presidency is doing and what this propaganda machine behind this man at the White House is doing."
In her book, Winston Wolkoff wrote that Melania once described Ivanka Trump and family members working in the White House as a bunch of "snakes."
"I'm not going to comment on whether there's audio or not," Winston Wolkoff said. But, she insisted, "I can back up everything that's in the book 100% ... and Donald and Melania know that."
Meanwhile, the first lady’s chief of staff and spokesperson Stephanie Grisham made it clear that Melania Trump believes her former best friend has tape recordings describing Winston Wolkoff’s book as a collection of "mistruths" and "revenge" tactics, saying…
"Anybody who secretly tapes their self-described best friend is, by definition, dishonest."
Stephanie Winston Wolkoff has been a longtime event planner of gala events for Vogue magazine and clients of her consulting firm; she counted Melania Trump as a close friend for more than a decade.
In late 2016 after Donald J. Trump had been elected president, she started working for the Trump team, first as a senior adviser to help "produce" Trump's inauguration and then, after the inauguration, as an unpaid adviser to Melania Trump.
It appears after leaving Melania Trump’s inner circle Winston Wolkoff made comments about her time working on the inauguration that local and federal investigators began scrutinizing millions of dollars in allegedly excessive and inexplicable expenditures. Wolkoff was referring to investigations conducted by the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York and local attorneys general in New Jersey and Washington, D.C. during her interview with ABC News…
"I'm working with three different prosecutors, and it's taken over my life."
Despite the seriousness of her claims, Wolkoff declined to provide ABC News with materials, including documents, to support any of the claims outlined in her book or the interview (below).
Trump's inaugural committee said in a statement to ABC News without specifics that it "disagrees with [her] description of this historic event," and added it "will decline to engage in her effort to sell books."
An unnamed White House spokesman similarly accused Winston Wolkoff of trying to "profit off lies and mischaracterizations meant to harm the First Family."
Melania Trump 'Stabbed me in the back.'
The inaugural committee, a private tax-exempt organization, raised nearly $107 million in donations and spent $104 million of that on the event, the most ever for an inauguration -- twice as much as President Barack Obama's first. The money not spent -- totaling about $3 million -- was reportedly donated to charity.
Wolkoff insists she was blindsided when, more than a year after the inauguration, The New York Times reported that Trump's inaugural committee had paid her event-planning firm more than $26 million. It sparked headlines around the world, suggesting she had personally pocketed all or much of that money.
Those unfair claims of excessive billing, according to Wolkoff, made her into "the cover girl for the inauguration shenanigans," she wrote in her book.
In fact, according to her, the $26 million was the total fee paid to a company she formed with two others to manage the inaugural planning. Almost all of that money was then transferred to an outside company hired to produce a series of inaugural events.
From the remaining $1.62 million was paid to Winston Wolkoff's firm, but -- after payments to the firm's employees -- she says she only received a fraction.
Winston Wolkoff, during the ABC interview, said that for all of her Trump-associated efforts, including "three months of work -- 24 hours a day, seven days a week -- working on the presidential inauguration," she "made" $480,000.
She also worked a full year in the aftermath of the inauguration, as an unpaid adviser to Melania Trump at the White House, but that ended as the controversy over the inauguration started to take hold. She left the White House in February 2018.
In her book, Wolkoff wrote she was dumbfounded by what Melania Trump's spokeswoman told the New York Times around the time of her departure…
"The first lady ‘had no involvement’ with the inaugural committee ‘and had no knowledge of how funds were spent.'"
That was "complete and utter horses--t!" Winston Wolkoff writes in her new book and claims Melania Trump was deeply involved in inauguration planning and personally approved at least some of the lavish expenditures.
"Melania knew it all, every detail, including who was screwing around [and] the type of salmon served at the Candlelight Dinner."
Also, during her ABC News interview, Wolkoff says she "begged" the first lady to publicly make clear that she did not personally receive anywhere close to $26 million and that Melania Trump had known about the inaugural expenditures…
"[But] 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."
The first lady's spokeswoman Grisham used this as evidence that Wolkoff's book is "clearly based on some imagined need for revenge."
"[She] builds herself up while belittling and blaming everyone she worked with, yet she still managed to play the victim."
According to Wolkoff, after her pleas for public support from the first lady, White House officials told Melania Trump to remain silent because…
"There were going to be possible investigations into the presidential inauguration financing."
Indeed, multiple investigations have been opened into the monies spent on the 2017 inauguration
Wolkoff offers her opinion on…' The question everyone should be asking.'
In the wake of The New York Times' reporting in 2018, Winston Wolkoff tearily confided in Donald Trump's then-personal attorney, Michael Cohen, about the inaugural committee's activities.
Cohen, it turns out, secretly recorded the conversation, and the recording was seized by the FBI as part of its investigation into Cohen's unrelated conduct, according to Winston Wolkoff's account.
The recording offered federal authorities at least one new angle to pursue.
According to Winston Wolkoff's account of events in her new book, she started to realize there could be a problem with the committee's expenditures…
"When I saw that a tree you could buy for $10 was $1,000, or a stage that would cost $100,000 was $1 million."
"There were a lot of different people involved."
In January, the attorney general for the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit that alleges the inaugural committee spent more than $1 million at the Trump International Hotel as part of a scheme "to enrich the Trump family."
In a statement back in January, Attorney General Karl Racine said his investigation found that Winston Wolkoff had "raised concerns" about the pending expenditures beforehand with the president-elect himself as well as Ivanka Trump, but they ignored them.
The Justice Department has subpoenaed records from the inaugural committee, but it's unclear where ongoing federal investigations may stand.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York declined to comment about its investigation, and Racine’s office would only acknowledge that Winston Wolkoff “provided documents” as part of her “cooperation” after being subpoenaed. The New Jersey attorney general's office did not respond to a request for comment.
An exasperated Winston Wolkoff told ABC News that -- while so much attention has focused on the money paid to the firm she co-founded -- the focus should be on how the rest of the nearly $107 million raised by the inaugural committee was spent.
"That's the question that everyone should be asking."
Wolkoff insists she NEVER had the final authority to approve most of the event’s expenditures. Still, she did acknowledge signing off on some steep items, including "$130,000 Tiffany crystal bowls" purchased as gifts for guests to an inaugural dinner hosted by Melania Trump.
Winston Wolkoff insists Melania Trump approved the purchase of those bowls.
Wolkoff points to 'Friction, suspicion, deceit, deception.'
"We shared a lot over 15 years," Winston Wolkoff said of Melania, recalling how they first met in 2003 when she worked at Vogue, where the up-and-coming model "Melania Knauss" -- Trump's girlfriend at the time -- often would find herself.
In her interview with ABC News, as in her book, Winston Wolkoff described the Trump White House as a place riven with "palace intrigue" and "filled with friction, suspicion, deceit, deception."
Particularly chilly is the relationship between Melania Trump and her stepdaughter Ivanka, according to Winston Wolkoff, who quotes Melania calling Ivanka "the Princess."