- The Washington Times
Tuesday, October 13, 2020

The Justice Department on Tuesday sued the author of a tell-all book about first lady Melania Trump, claiming the ex-friend broke a 2017 non-disclosure agreement.

Justice Department lawyers asked a federal judge in Washington, D.C. to order Stephanie Winston Wolkoff to surrender any profits from her book, “Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with the First Lady,” to a government trust.

Ms. Wolkoff had been close friends with Mrs. Trump and had volunteered to serve as an adviser to the first lady after President Trump took office.

The 16-page complaint says the non-disclosure deal barred Ms. Wolkoff from disclosing confidential information she obtained while working in the White House. Justice Department lawyers say the agreement required Ms. Wolkoff to submit a draft to the White House for review or receive written permission to publish it.

Simon & Schuster published the book in early September.

“Ms. Wolkoff breached the [confidentiality agreement] by disclosing her manuscript to Simon & Schuster, and causing it to be published without having received written authorization from the chief of staff to the first lady or the Office of White House Counsel,” department lawyers wrote.

The Justice Department says it notified Ms. Wolkoff’s attorney on July 15 that the book would violate the terms of the non-disclosure agreement, but she moved ahead anyway.

“Ms. Wolkoff voluntarily, willingly and knowingly entered into a contractual agreement with the United States of America, allowing her access to the White House and sensitive information in consideration for agreement to certain conditions on her use and dissemination of that information,” department lawyers wrote in the 16-page complaint.

The Justice Department also maintained that Ms. Wolkoff had “indirect access to deliberative information, to which the first lady was privy, related to the President’s official duties on behalf of the country.”

Simon & Schuster and an attorney for Ms. Wolkoff did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In addition to her book, Ms. Wolkoff recently released to CNN secret recordings of Mrs. Trump’s frustration over criticism she had received because of her husband’s policies.

The Trump administration has savaged the book.

When asked about it, first lady spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham told NBC News, “Anybody who secretly tapes their self-described best friend is by definition dishonest.”

“The book is full of mistruths and paranoia and clearly based on some imagined need for revenge,” Ms. Grisham continued.

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