Melania ‘stabbed me in the back’
Melania Trump may be one of the most beautiful and photographed women in the world, but she remains a mystery to many.
Now a former "bestie" has unleashed on the First Lady, describing her as cold and calculating.
Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a trusted senior adviser to Ms Trump and a friend for 15 years who helped organise the President's hundred million dollar inauguration and a former friend of 15 years, has written a tell-all book called Melania and Me.
She told Sunday night's episode of 60 Minutes Australia how Melania "100 per cent" took advantage of her trust and "stabbed me in the back, and sliced me on the neck and threw me under the bus".
"This is not a typical, typical marriage or a typical relationship," Winston Wolkoff said of the Trump's marriage.
"They are there for one another, they have a reason for being together, which is beyond anyone's comprehension, except for being able to present themselves in a way that she brings, or she brought some humanity to the presidency."
Melania, who grew up in Slovenia under communist rule, came to America as a young model, infamously posing for Sports Illustrated and met her future husband - rich, brash businessman Donald Trump, 24 years her senior - aged just 26, later becoming his third wife and mother of their son Baron.
"I was actually supposed to meet somebody else, there was this great super model sitting next to Melania and I was supposed to meet this supermodel and they said look there's so-and-so. I said forget about her who is the one on the left and it was Melania," Mr Trump once said during a joint interview.
When asked whether Melania liked her future husband straight away, she replied: "It was a great chemistry and energy."
Over the years, Melania has had to "stare the other way" as accusations of her husband's cheating with Playboy model Karen McDougal and porn star, Stormy Daniels, played their way through the press, along with other reports of his unsavoury and infamous "grab them by the p**sy" comments.
But when Winston Wolkoff, who worked at Vogue magazine and helped produce the world famous Met Gala, joined the Trump team at the White House, she said she saw Melania was "diving into a pool of sharks".
While photographs of the First Lady have often portrayed her as "unhappy", Winston Wolkoff said, "She is not unhappy. She is complicit. She is no different than her husband."
"You know, I have been saying it's a transactional marriage and it is because I started to realise that everything they did had, was, was, um strategic," Winston Wolkoff told 60 Minutes journalist Liam Bartlett.
"You got a woman who's married to this guy who has an affair with a Playboy model and then a porn star, and we're talking only weeks after his son is born, and she's still recovering.
"They were meant for each other. What woman, what normal woman could actually handle that? None. For her, it was just politics. It's just liberal media. 'It is what it is. I know who I married. Certain things don't need to be explained with an explanation.' I mean, those are her words.
"He wanted the spotlight. He's a showman.
"And she was willing to do what he needed for her, which was to stand by his side.
"So all of these speculations about her heart and how she's feeling and Melania and Melania, everyone should just stop, because there's nothing there to feel."
Referring to press speculation of a lack of intimacy between the couple and Melania's frequent hand squatting of the President, Winston Wolkoff said, "So, I think that people are forgetting, or missing, is that Donald and Melania because … And the Trump family, um, are masters of the dark.
"And I think that whenever he needs something to distract away from something else, Melania plays a role in that. And then all of a sudden, everyone's talking about her hand swot, which is, to me, she's literally … again, they-they are aligned in a way that everything is done for a reason. Nothing just happens."
Bartlett asked: "Ah, you think that's on purpose?"
"100 per cent," Winston Wolkoff said. "Again, you have to understand who they are to understand what they're trying to do. Um. Which is fleece the nation. Like, which is completely make you think one thing because that machine behind them is so powerful."
“He wanted the spotlight and she was willing to do what he needed for her.” Stephanie tells #60Mins that Melania and Donald Trump were ‘meant for each other’ in what she believes has become a ‘transactional and strategic marriage.’ pic.twitter.com/0NQC6GvFlG— 60 Minutes Australia (@60Mins) September 20, 2020
Winston Wolkoff first met Melania when she worked at Vogue magazine in New York where they hit it off immediately.
"Melania and I, our friendship was based on her ability to stay calm. Her ability to have the most general common sense," she said
"It was a very … You know, our ideologies were not spoken about. Politics was not spoken about. It was just the two of us.
"And so, I spoke way after I left seeing her. I felt confident. I felt assured. And then she really gave me that boost of, um, you know, energy."
Their friendship blossomed into a working relationship when Melania became the First Lady.
Winston Wolkoff was announced as her senior adviser. However, the friendship didn't last.
"Stephanie, is there still a tiny part of you that likes Melania?" asked Bartlett.
"No, not at all," came the reply"
"I know I gave her the benefit of the doubt. I wanted to believe."
When she was brought onto the team at the White House, Winston Wolkoff said it was her first glimpse into the colliding worlds of the Trump family and Washington politics.
"When I was first asked to, uh, produce the Inauguration, I did so with honour," she told 60 Minutes. "Um, as I was doing this, I realised that Melania had no one. And I mean, no one helping her. And I was her friend for 15 years. I was someone that she trusted and someone that she knew would watch out for her.
"And when I saw what was going on during the Presidential Inauguration Committee planning, um, I knew she was diving into a pool of sharks.
"And I needed to have her back because no one else would."
Stephanie and Melania hit it off in the early 2000’s and soon became inseparable. But after a dramatic falling out Stephanie is now claiming that the Trump’s destroyed her career, her life and her reputation. #60Mins pic.twitter.com/AYmVSvyu8z— 60 Minutes Australia (@60Mins) September 20, 2020
She also described tension between Melania and Mr Trump's daughter Ivanka who was being groomed for a larger role within the White House, leaving the First Lady pushed aside and ignored.
"No one cared to take care of Melania Trump. People were only interested in making sure that Ivanka Trump was taken care of," Winston Wolkoff said.
"You know, it used to be more cordial when the children were younger. They did look up to Melania. Um, but now, you know, power does take its place, and it holds a very critically important, you know, part of all of their being now.
"And listen Ivanka just wanted to usurp the First Lady, her interests were her own.
It's what Ivanka can get out of this for herself.
"She (Melania) has succumbed to her stepdaughter's, um, ability to squash her as the First Lady, to do anything effective to affect change and she's just going to ride out this time. And that makes you complicit."
Eventually, Winston Wolkoff - who occupied a privileged position for the first two years of Donald Trump's presidency - started to become sidelined and was increasingly viewed as trouble.
"I really had a lot of questions, and people did not like me asking questions. I was a problem. Um, they wanted me out of the White House," she said.
"I was seen as being divisive because I wanted to help the First Lady. I was being seen as divisive, as Melania told me people were jealous 'cause I slept over.
"I was being divisive 'cause I was so close to her and understood what she needed to do, but also I had the experience to help her execute everything she, that our, that our country needed to do this."
Eventually, there was an investigation into why the presidential inauguration Winston Wolkoff helped to organise was so expensive and she was accused of pocketing $US26 million ($A35 million), leading to her being publicly dumped from the team with no support from the First Lady she'd tried to help.
Winston Wolkoff is adamant she was the victim of a political hit who actually pocketed $US480,000 (AU$658,000) from the campaign - which included planning the inauguration, working for Melania 24/7 for free, bringing her contacts and working for a year and a half at the White House.
The matter is now being investigated.
“He’s literally getting Ivanka ready to become president.” Stephanie Winston Wolkoff says Donald Trump is already preparing for his daughter to one day take the top spot in the Oval Office. #60Mins pic.twitter.com/uSnH4dX2KW— 60 Minutes Australia (@60Mins) September 20, 2020
But Winston Wolkoff's issue is that Melania - a woman she worked so hard to protect - did not come out to support her publicly.
"They destroyed my character once, I'm not letting them do this again," Winston Wolkoff said.
She has now written a tell-all book about her time at the White House and it's said that the Trumps - Melania in particular - are not too happy about it and have described the book as being filled with falsehoods.
"Yes. I've read that. What did you expect them to say?" Winston Wolkoff said.
"The book doesn't have one falsehood. I can back up every single thing in this book by one or another way of transmission, and I mean everything."
She also admitted secretly recording Melania Trump.
"I secretly recorded Melania Trump after I was accused of almost being, I was accused of being a criminal, of criminal activity.
"She was no longer my friend. I was thrown to the wolves.
"She stabbed me in the back, and sliced me on the neck and threw me under the bus."
Winston Wolkoff said her motivation behind the book was, "I needed to clear my head. I needed clarity. I, I've been living in my house for three years. I've gone out maybe a handful of times. I have three children.
"They took my life away from me, in a matter of seconds, the life I built for myself and my
children and my husband and my family was crushed by this machine of false narratives.
"And no one took any desire to even want to figure out what the truth was which was where's the rest of the money?
"There's something very interesting in the way that, when you take a really big step back and you stop focusing on the moments, that you realise that America and people are just being played to. And we're all on a reality show now, and we really are."
So what will happen to Melania if Mr Trump loses the presidency in November?
"She'll be in the South of France on a really big yacht with a really big brim hat doing
what she's always wanted to do, nothing," Winston Wolkoff concluded.
Melania Trump turned to Stephanie to help coordinate Donald Trump’s 2017 inauguration. But media reports quickly – and falsely – accused her of pocketing $26 million. Instead of defending her, Melania abandoned her. #60Mins pic.twitter.com/Y9jvqBxSA8— 60 Minutes Australia (@60Mins) September 20, 2020
Originally published as Melania 'stabbed me in the back'