DOJ says book from first lady’s ex-adviser breaks agreement and seeks profits

Department of Justice says adviser agreed not to share private information she learned during her work

The Department of Justice has accused Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former White House adviser who wrote a scathing tell-all book about her relationship with the first lady, of violating a non-disclosure agreement and wants to put profits from the project into a government trust. 

The accusation marks the latest twist in a relationship that quickly soured after the controversial revelation that a firm founded by Ms Winston Wolkoff got $26m to help plan the inauguration.

The suit, filed in US District Court in Washington, accuses the former adviser, who had a bitter falling out with Melania Trump, of failing to submit her book, Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with the First Lady, for government review before its publication in September.  

“The United States seeks to hold Ms  Wolkoff to her contractual and fiduciary obligations and to ensure that she is not unjustly enriched by her breach of the duties she freely assumed when she served as an adviser to the first lady,” the complaint reads

According to the suit filed against Ms Winston Wolkoff on Tuesday, an events planning executive, the book’s publication violates a sealed agreement she signed related to handling confidential information she learned through her role as an unpaid adviser to the first lady, which began in 2017.

The former adviser denies doing anything that violated her agreement with the first lady.

“I’ve been working with First Amendment lawyers the entire time, pre-publishing lawyers, so this was handled extremely carefully,” the author told ABC’s The View in September. “I did not break the NDA.”

Compared to the voluble president, the first lady has kept a much lower profile in Washington, but Melania and Me painted a relatively unflattering picture of the president’s wife.

Sections of the book describe her disagreements with the president and rivalry with Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter. In October, Winston Wolkoff also released a secret recording she made of the first lady, where she can allegedly be heard complaining about criticism over the president’s family separation policy at the US-Mexico border.

“I say that I’m working on Christmas planning for the Christmas, and they said, ‘Oh, what about the children?’ That they were separated,” Ms Trump said, according to the New York Times. “Where they were saying anything when Obama did that?”

Ms Winston Wolkoff alleges the government, which she says previously sent her a cease-and-desist request, is conspiring to smother the book so it can conceal the facts on matters such as where the president’s record $107 million inauguration fundraising hall went.

“The last thing that any of these people want is for the truth to be told,” she told MSNBC in September

That inauguration signalled the beginning of Ms Winston Wolkoff’s work for the Trump administration, and would also help seal its end. In February of 2018, the first lady’s adviser left her post after the New York Times reported embarrassing revelations for the White House that a firm Winston Wolkoff founded got a whopping $26 million to help produce the event, compared to the roughly $5 million given to charity.  

The court battle is the latest in a stream of conflicts between the Trump orbit and the numerous former employees and other insiders breaking ranks and writing critical (and lucrative) books about the president. Over the summer, the president’s now-deceased brother Robert sued unsuccessfully to block the publication of another critical book by Mary Trump, the president’s niece.

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