First lady Melania Trump today escalated her war against former friend and adviser Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, issuing a scathing personal attack dressed up as a White House press release on child bullying.
The public missive comes just three days after the Department of Justice sued Wolkoff on behalf of the president’s wife, claiming she violated a nondisclosure agreement by publishing a tell-all book, Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship With the First Lady.
The first lady’s mini-essay, titled “Give Focus to Our Next Generation,” begins innocently enough with a reflection on the lessons learned during her recent bout with COVID-19.
“Over the last couple of weeks, I have had time to reflect on many things personal to me,” it reads. “One of the most honorable and important roles I have ever undertaken has been serving you, the American people, as the First Lady of this country. When I thought about where I wanted to put my time and efforts, there was no hesitation. BE BEST has one simple purpose—to help children. It serves to provide the tools children need to prepare them for their futures.”
And that’s where things turn dark.
“We all know that more often than not, information that could be helpful to children is lost in the noise made by self-serving adults,” Trump continues. “I have most recently found this to be the case as major news outlets eagerly covered salacious claims made by a former contractor who advised my office. A person who said she ‘made me’ even though she hardly knew me, and someone who clung to me after my husband won the Presidency.”
Without naming her ex-BFF, she goes on to excoriate the “former contractor” for “secretly” recording their phone calls, saying that her words—“Who gives a fuck about Christmas stuff and decorations?” for example—were taken out of context.
Trump uses scare quotes to cast doubt on the veracity of Wolkoff’s “memoir,” describing her as a dishonest and irrelevant opportunist. The woman who made headlines for wearing a jacket with “I really don’t care, do U?” emblazoned across the back while visiting a child detention center in 2018 then paints Wolkoff as someone who cares little about “helping others.”
A New York City events planner who once worked at Vogue magazine, Wolkoff was hired by the first lady to help organize the president’s 2017 inauguration. She stayed on as an unpaid senior adviser to the first lady, assisting Trump with her “Be Best” children’s initiative, but left the following year amid reports of financial irregularities related to the event. Wolkoff told MSNBC that she recorded her former friend’s phone calls after being “publicly shamed” by Trump over the incident.
“As a country, we cannot continue to get lost in the noise of negativity and encourage ambition by those who seek only to promote themselves,” the first lady’s statement concludes. “Thank you to all who have given us support. Thank you for you (sic) tireless efforts and for your love of this country. I look forward to working with you closely over the next four years.”
It’s an “interesting effort” by Trump, says Craig Holman, an ethics and lobbying expert at nonprofit government watchdog Public Citizen. However, according to Holman, it will only serve primarily to further muddle her own image in the eyes of everyday Americans.
“At first, she appeared to be the kinder, gentler one in the Trump family who was aloof from politics,” Holman told The Daily Beast. “But later she has shown an image of anger and disdain against immigrants and all those who challenge Donald Trump, serving as a campaign partner in Trump’s political world.
“This letter tries to combine both images... It is a passive-aggressive letter from a first lady, projecting the old image of being kind yet also the new image of defending her husband in the political arena.”
Spokespeople for both Wolkoff and the first lady did not immediately respond to a request for comment.