Stephanie Winston Wolkoff considered Melania Trump a friend—more than a friend, really. Wolkoff even followed Melania to Washington, D.C., helping produce the 2017 inauguration and advise the incoming first lady. But when the stories started coming out about the insane overspending during the inauguration, Wolkoff says Melania threw her to the wolves—allowing Wolkoff to take the blame in the press and kicking her out of the White House.
“I begged her to just come out and say that I was her friend, I was loyal. Nope, nothing. So the betrayal, the pain of that was like—I gave up my whole life for this woman. No one else would help Melania. I mean, she was alone,” Wolkoff tells Molly Jong-Fast on the latest episode of The New Abnormal. “I should've known better. She is just like her husband.”
So Wolkoff began taping her calls with Melania—calls which formed some of the bedrock for her book, Melania and Me. Improbably, Wolkoff and the first lady kept talking, even after Wolkoff was cast out.
When Melania wore that instantly infamous “I Don’t Care” jacket on a trip to a center for migrant kids, Wolkoff called.
Their mutual friend, the fashion designer Herve Pierre, was being attacked online for the fiasco because he had made dresses for Melania in the past. But this jacket was a $39 item from Zara. Wolkoff asked the first lady: Would she clear things up? Say something in public?
Melania admits that Pierre “had nothing to do with that jacket.” But she declines to make any kind of statement on his behalf. Instead, Melania laughs, “I'm driving liberals crazy, that's for sure. And you know… they deserve it.”
Wolkoff was horrified. “When I sent [Pierre] the photograph [of the jacket], he immediately wrote me back saying, ‘Is this Photoshop? ‘And I wanted so desperately to say yes,” Wolkoff tells Jong-Fast. “He was devastated.”
“There's so much callousness,” Wolkoff continues. “Even in just trying to get [Pierre] paid for collaborating with her and making her first dress, it was like pulling teeth. There is no empathy or remorse for the fact that here's someone who was blamed because he's known as her ‘stylist.’”
Moments like these—and the casual dismissal over the inaugural—made Wolkoff feel better about recording conversations with a woman to whom she had once been so closely connected.
“Taping a friend is, it's unacceptable. It really is. But Melania was no longer my friend when I pressed record. Because when I pressed record on the conversations I had with her, it was only after she, Donald, and the PIC [Presidential Inauguration Committee] [tried] to make me the scapegoat and to falsely accuse me for the overspending of $107 million of the inaugural funds,” she tells Jong-Fast. “First and foremost, I taped to protect myself because I needed to be protected once I knew I was going to be under investigation.”
Jong-Fast answers, “I don't think anyone ever regrets taping a Trump.”
This is part two of a two-part talk with Wolkoff. In part one, Wolkoff took us inside the war between Ivanka and Melania Trump.
Listen to The New Abnormal on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.