Thu. Sep 23rd, 2021

East Wing grapples with a familiar West Wing problem: the tell-all book

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    Former aide to Melania Trump describes relationship between Melania and Ivanka

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Former aide to Melania Trump describes relationship between Melania and Ivanka 05:41

(CNN)On Thursday afternoon, Melania Trump entered the East Room of the White House for a roundtable discussion about drug addiction recovery. Dressed in a prim polka-dot dress, she made opening remarks and then listened as former addicts told personal stories. She was as she often is in public, calm, and for the most part expressionless.

Outwardly, it would have been difficult to discern Trump was several days into the fallout of a book by her former close friend and senior adviser, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff.

Director of National Drug Control Policy James Carroll looks on as U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams shows First Lady Melania Trump a Naloxone nasal spray, which helps reverse opioid overdoses, during an event to mark National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month in the East Room of the White House on September 3, 2020 in Washington, DC. The First Lady hosted a round table event with people who are recovering from substance use and mental health issues.In Wolkoff’s book release, the East Wing has for the first time faced a problem more commonly reserved for the West Wing: the “tell-all” book by a former employee. While ex-staffers of President Donald Trump, ranging from former national security adviser John Bolton to former Oval Office scheduler Madeleine Westerhout, have often written books about their time in the White House, “Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with the First Lady,” is Melania Trump’s first run-in with a disgruntled ex-staffer in book form.

    “Of course she’s angry,” Trump’s chief of staff Stephanie Grisham told CNN of Trump’s reaction to the book and its allegations. Trump has fumed this week over Wolkoff’s about-face from eager friend and active member of her tightly held inner circle, to what Grisham has said on Trump’s behalf is “revisionist history.” Read MoreWinston Wolkoff revealed private conversations with the first lady on topics ranging from her frosty relationship with her stepdaughter to her marriage, her thoughts on border policy, Michelle Obama, the jacket kerfuffle and her frequent use of emojis. And in an interview with the Washington Post, Winston Wolkoff also let fly the allegation Trump used a private email account in the White House, an ethics no-no, even for the first lady, who is not a government employee.”She worked for the first lady’s office,” Grisham says of Wolkoff’s reveals. “She had a non-disclosure agreement.” A White House source tells CNN Winston Wolkoff’s book is being reviewed by White House counsel, but no decision has been made as of yet whether Trump intends to pursue legal channels.Trump herself, despite her anger, stayed quiet until Thursday. In a tweet that escalated quickly from a scheduling announcement to a condemnation of the press, Trump revealed something she often does not, her personal thoughts. “This afternoon I will be hosting a roundtable with some incredible citizens in recovery & the amazing organizations that support them,” tweeted the first lady. “I encourage the media to focus & report on the nation’s drug crisis, not on delusional & malicious gossip.””It rattled her, for sure,” another White House source tells CNN of Trump’s private response to Wolkoff’s book. “It hasn’t been an ‘easy-breezy’ week.”While outwardly the strategy was to discredit and demonize Wolkoff, inside the East Wing, there was a push for “nothing to see here” normalcy. Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and adviser, also a focus of Wolkoff’s book, countered the book’s claims, too. “These are absurd, petty and desperate accusations from a clearly very insecure and paranoid former employee,” her spokeswoman Carolina Hurley told CNN.

      A White House official also told CNN that Winston Wolkoff’s characterization of Ivanka Trump’s time in the White House, whether it be commandeering the first family’s movie theater (“The movie screening was not initiated or hosted by Ivanka,”) to her placement during the Inauguration, which Wolkoff wrote Trump wished be more prominent, (“It is traditional and appropriate for the children of the President to join in such a historic occasion. A simple Google search could have helped Stephanie understand that,”) and attempting to secure East Wing office space (“Never happened. Ivanka never considered having an office in the East Wing nor did she send her husband to claim one,”) simply is not true. There are more books by former Trump insiders coming. Michael Cohen’s “Disloyal,” slated for release September 8, is primarily about the President, but a person with knowledge of the contents says it will also include incidents involving the first lady.


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