Melania Trump used private email accounts while in the White House, says former colleague and friend

The Post has seen messages dated after the inauguration that look like from private email and messaging accounts used by Melania Trump. The messages contained discussions of presidency hires and contracts (together with Winston Wolkoff’s), detailed schedules for the president and first girl throughout the Israeli and Japanese state visits, strategic partnerships for the first girl’s Be Best initiative, the logistics of the Easter egg roll, and funds for the presidential inauguration, key components of which Winston Wolkoff, an skilled New York City occasions producer, deliberate.

Members of the Trump administration have already confronted scrutiny for utilizing private email. The House Oversight Committee final 12 months started trying into the use of private accounts for presidency enterprise by Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross additionally has used private email to conduct government business. Donald Trump spent a lot of the 2016 election cycle drawing consideration to the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she served as secretary of state, calling it “worse than Watergate.”

After berating Hillary Clinton for her email scandal, President Trump’s personal administration has grappled with officers violating communication coverage too. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

The White House initially didn’t reply to requests for remark. After this story was printed on-line, Stephanie Grisham, Melania Trump’s spokeswoman and chief of employees, mentioned in an announcement to The Post: “In session with White House ethics officers, from the starting of the Administration, the First Lady and her employees have taken steps to fulfill the normal of the Presidential Records Act, regarding the preservation of information that adequately doc official actions.”

A primary girl shouldn’t be a authorities worker, mentioned Richard Painter, who was the chief White House ethics lawyer for George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007, however “if she is doing United States authorities enterprise, she ought to be utilizing the White House email.” Use of private accounts is allowed below the Presidential Records Act, however it’s dangerous: If these information aren’t fastidiously maintained, the White House won’t have the ability to produce them in response to a subpoena. (Also unlawful: discussing something labeled on unofficial accounts.) Bush’s White House deputy chief of employees Karl Rove acquired in hassle for shedding information with private emails in 2006.

“It’s whole hypocrisy,” mentioned Painter. “They acquired elected performing as if Hillary Clinton should be in jail for utilizing the improper email.”

Melania Trump’s email habits haven’t been beforehand reported and aren’t described in Winston Wolkoff’s e book. She informed The Post she left it out of the e book as a result of she “simply had a lot” to put in writing about and was concentrating on telling the story of her private interactions with the first girl and others in the White House.

She says she determined to debate Melania Trump’s private email use — together with recordings she made from her conversations with the first girl — with The Post after the White House attacked her integrity in response to the e book.

Winston Wolkoff’s e book is exclusive in the panorama of books about the Trumps, as the first insider’s have a look at the first girl’s private world. The two ladies had a 15-year friendship, says Winston Wolkoff, starting in New York City and persevering with by way of Trump’s first 12 months in the White House, the place Winston Wolkoff was her unpaid senior adviser.

Winston Wolkoff’s time at the White House ended badly. She was ousted from her position and subsequently cooperated with a number of investigations into spending on President Trump’s inauguration.

She felt “betrayed” by the first girl, she says, as a result of she didn’t publicly come to her protection when an inauguration committee tax return, and information reviews, named an occasion planning agency she and enterprise companions had created for producing the inauguration as the recipient of a $26 million fee. Most of that cash was used to pay an impartial subcontractor for a pair of two-hour dwell broadcasts, plus the prices of manufacturing a number of inaugural occasions. (Winston Wolkoff personally retained $484,126 for her providers, based on monetary paperwork she confirmed The Post.)

In the e book, she chronicles what she noticed as in depth mismanagement and opaque accounting she witnessed while engaged on the inauguration. She writes that the first girl’s wants appeared not solely to be an afterthought, however on many events gave the impression to be actively thwarted. And she portrays a tense relationship between Melania and Ivanka Trump.

The White House has launched a number of statements just lately saying Winston Wolkoff’s e book is filled with falsehoods. In an announcement to The Post, Grisham panned the e book as “revisionist historical past.” She additionally attacked Winston Wolkoff’s motives and character, suggesting she wrote her e book “based mostly on some imagined want for revenge.”

“Literally everybody she labored with was an impediment in her thoughts, individuals she belittled and blamed for every part,” Grisham wrote. “This is a deeply insecure lady whose must be related defies logic.”

Winston Wolkoff says that “every part in the e book is one hundred pc verifiable and factual” and confirmed The Post what gave the impression to be in depth digital and bodily archives of emails and emoji-laden texts from the first girl that she is ready to make use of to again up her claims — and performed some audio recordings.

Winston Wolkoff informed The Post she started recording her telephone conversations with the first girl in February 2018 and till they stopped speaking or texting on Jan. 1, 2019. She determined to take action, she says, the day after the White House terminated her contract, out of worry of turning into a “fall man” as scrutiny of inaugural spending intensified. And, she says, as a result of the first girl had made it clear she wouldn’t help her publicly or clear up issues in the press that Winston Wolkoff says had been unfaithful.

On one recording, a voice that appears like the first girl’s is heard saying, “Don’t be so dramatic. Because you weren’t fired. This got here to that as a result of that is politics.”

“Anybody who secretly tapes their self-described greatest friend shouldn’t be solely dishonest, they’re deceitful,” Grisham mentioned in the assertion.

This was at the peak of the Mueller investigation, Winston Wolkoff says, when defending herself from the Trump household and the equipment of White House palace intrigue had out of the blue began to appear crucial. “I didn’t file a friend. I’d by no means file a friend,” Winston Wolkoff informed The Post. “But — this is essential — she was now not my friend once I pressed file.”

In her New York life, Winston Wolkoff, 49, was Anna Wintour’s right-hand particular occasions planner at Vogue, the lead in producing the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Gala — the style world’s premier annual occasion — for a decade. She then spent a number of years overseeing Fashion Week at Lincoln Center, which normally had an attendance of greater than 120,000 individuals, and she began her personal agency.

She and Melania Trump turned associates in the early 2000s. At the starting of that friendship, Trump was a Slovenian immigrant mannequin greatest identified for relationship, and later marrying, Donald Trump, and Winston Wolkoff was a longtime Vogue staffer. Over the years, they’d have lengthy lunches collectively, discuss their children. Winston Wolkoff says she admired Trump’s cool confidence.

“Melania’s not lonely; she’s self-contained,” Winston Wolkoff informed The Post. “People assume she’s, like, unhappy and trapped, and she’s not.”

Before their falling-out, as Winston Wolkoff particulars in her e book, she was the first girl’s confidante, a witness to her interactions with Donald Trump, and considered one of a handful of individuals with whom the first girl may joke about her rivalry with Ivanka Trump, whom she appreciated to name “Princess,” based on Winston Wolkoff. In one telling anecdote, Winston Wolkoff recollects conspiring with Trump to maintain the first daughter out of sure photographs throughout the presidential swearing-in, a plan she says they playfully known as “Operation Block Ivanka.”

Operation Block Ivanka was “petty,” Winston Wolkoff says, however in some ways felt like the solely approach to deal with the proven fact that “Ivanka wouldn’t cease making an attempt to place herself in entrance of Melania” ­— figuratively and actually. Throughout planning for the inauguration, Winston Wolkoff informed The Post, Ivanka Trump saved sending her textual content messages about precisely the place she wished to be standing in the swearing-in photograph, “and ‘it’s so essential for me to be with my father’ and actually sending me an image of the Obamas” for reference, she says. “And I used to be like, ‘When does she cease?’ ”

And so Winston Wolkoff says she studied the seating chart and made certain that Ivanka’s face can be obscured from photographs when she was seated, and that she wouldn’t be at the middle of the photographs while standing. Winston Wolkoff informed The Post that she was working to guard the pursuits of her friend Melania, but in addition as a result of she felt that “individuals had been overstepping their boundaries” and there was one thing improper with the first daughter being so disrespectful to the first girl of the United States.

“It is conventional and acceptable for the youngsters of the president to affix in such a historic event,” mentioned an individual near Ivanka. “A easy Google search may have helped Stephanie perceive that.”

The information Winston Wolkoff saved from her friendship with Trump recommend her wariness about the first daughter’s motivations might need been shared by the first girl.

“You understand how they’re snakes,” learn an August 2017 textual content that seems to be from Melania to Winston Wolkoff, in reference to a battle with Ivanka and Jared Kushner over staffing.

Winston Wolkoff confirmed The Post the whole alternate for context — which is a bit sophisticated, however the quick model is that Trump and Winston Wolkoff believed Ivanka Trump and Kushner had been stopping them from hiring Kayleigh McEnany for the first girl’s workplace. This was the second time a “poaching” like this had occurred, Winston Wolkoff says. (McEnany is now White House press secretary. Her deputy, Sarah Matthews, disputed Winston Wolkoff’s model of occasions.)

Winston Wolkoff tells different tales in her e book about stress between the first girl and the first daughter: that Ivanka Trump tried to muscle in on planning a 2017 International Women’s Day luncheon with Melania Trump (regardless of the first girl’s objections) and wished to learn the first girl’s speeches in advance (which Winston Wolkoff says she refused); that Kushner tried to take over workplaces in the White House’s East Wing (sometimes the first girl’s territory); that Melania Trump was not knowledgeable that she may deliver company to the president’s first handle to Congress, and by the time she came upon, the first girl’s field had been full of company of Ivanka Trump’s and Cabinet members. When Melania Trump tried to begin hiring high staffers very early in the administration, Winston Wolkoff says, they had been informed there was virtually no funds left for the first girl’s workplace and they misplaced certified candidates. “Melania felt that her pursuits had been being always stonewalled,” Winston Wolkoff informed The Post, “and we knew that it was all the time Ivanka behind the friction and suspicion and mistrust.”

Carolina Hurley, a White House spokeswoman who works with Ivanka Trump, mentioned in a written assertion, “These are absurd, petty and determined accusations from a clearly very insecure and paranoid former worker. Ivanka got here to Washington to deal with coverage that uplifts hardworking Americans and their households. This e book is a tragic try at relevance.”

The president refused to take sides, based on Winston Wolkoff. “Again, it’s their kind of regular marriage,” she informed The Post. “Melania shouldn’t be like several spouse who would say, ‘Your daughter is blah blah blah.’ It’s not value it to her. There’s an understanding between them that it simply is what it’s. And that’s how she’s determined she needs to dwell her life.”

The image she paints of Melania’s relationship with Donald is sunny.

“They completely get alongside. It’s loopy,” she says. “I imply, they chuckle collectively. She is aware of who she married. He is aware of who he married. They are one and the similar.”

Winston Wolkoff had by no means voted in a presidential election, however when Trump’s husband made his run in 2016, she forged a vote for Trump. She writes in her e book that working for the Trumps was “the worst mistake of my life.” Of the first girl, she writes, “I want I had by no means met her.”

She informed The Post she has cooperated with prosecutors on three totally different investigations into inauguration spending (the U.S. legal professional’s workplace in the Southern District of New York, the House Intelligence Committee and D.C.’s legal professional normal) and has gone “greater than one million {dollars} into the gap” in attorneys’ charges since working for the Trumps.

As for Grisham’s assertion that she’s out for revenge, Winston Wolkoff informed The Post that’s not the case. “This isn’t about me doing one thing to Melania,” she says. “This is about me sharing with the world who this household is and what goes on behind closed doorways.”

Winston Wolkoff says she went by way of “a breakdown” after her ouster and the finish of her friendship with Trump. She says that, for the first time in two years, she’s opening the shades of her condominium just some blocks away from Trump Tower. That could also be an exaggeration (“It was a 12 months and a half not less than,” she says), however she feels lighter now. “This is the last item I wished to do,” she says about speaking to a reporter. “But I needed to know what occurred, if this friendship was actual, and how I acquired myself in so deep. It’s upsetting to see them snow the nation the similar approach they did it to me. They’re hurting so many individuals.”

After casting her first presidential poll for Trump in 2016, Winston Wolkoff says she’s planning to vote once more this 12 months — for Joe Biden.

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