Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former adviser and longtime friend to Melania Trump, reportedly confirmed that she has tapes of the first lady after she was publicly spurned by the White House.
Winston Wolkoff, whose scorched-earth book, “Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship With the First Lady,” was published Tuesday, told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that she was speaking publicly for the first time about the tapes because she’s been blamed of “taping her friend.”
“They’re right. If she was my friend, it would be horrible,” she said. “But Melania and the White House had accused me of criminal activity, had publicly shamed and fired me, and made me their scapegoat.”
"Melania and the White House had accused me of criminal activity, had publicly shamed and fired me, and made me their scapegoat," Stephanie Winston Wolkoff says of her decision to record conversations with the first lady. "At that moment in time, that's when I pressed record." pic.twitter.com/qrTarVZG0P
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) September 2, 2020
“At that moment in time, that’s when I pressed record,” she said. “She was no longer my friend. And she was willing to let them take me down, and she told me herself, ‘This is the way it has to be.’”
Though Winston Wolkoff did not disclose the contents of those tapes, a number of reports last week highlighted that she had secretly recorded Melania Trump making disparaging remarks about her family, including her stepdaughter Ivanka Trump.
She told The Post in an article published Tuesday that she started recording her phone conversations with the first lady in February 2018 out of fear of becoming a “fall guy” for an investigation into spending by President Donald Trump’s inauguration committee.
In previous interviews, Winston Wolkoff has refused to comment on the existence of the tapes. However, two sources familiar with the plan told The New York Times that tapes would likely be given to a news organization prior to the publication of her book.
She told Maddow on Tuesday that a report was imminent.
The Trumps allegedly wanted nothing to do with Winston Wolkoff after news broke in 2018 that the inauguration committee paid nearly $26 million to her company to plan events related to the ceremony. Winston Wolkoff personally received $1.62 million, The New York Times reported.
A spokesperson for Melania Trump said at the time that the first lady came to know of how the money was spent. She said Winston Wolkoff, who had been working on a contract basis as an unpaid senior adviser to Melania, had been fired.
Winston Wolkoff has defended her work on the inauguration and, at the time, said she expected to “remain a trusted source for advice and support on an informal basis.” However, last year it seemed that the relationship had been bitter. She said she was betrayed by the Trumps.
Her book is the latest in a string of explosive publications from people who were formerly close to the White House who have since spoken out about the President Donald Trump and his inner circle.