First Lady Melania Trump has severed ties with her senior adviser and friend Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, following news that Winston Wolkoff’s firm was paid $26 million for President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
The first lady’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, confirmed to the New York Times on Monday that the office had “severed the gratuitous services contract with Ms. Wolkoff.”
“We thank her for her hard work and wish her all the best,” Grisham added.
President Trump was reportedly “enraged” that the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee, the nonprofit group that oversaw his inauguration and related events in January 2017, paid $26 million to WIS Media Partners of Marina del Rey, Calif., the firm founded by Winston Wolkoff.
Winston Wolkoff is a friend of Vogue’s editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, and began her career planning society galas in Manhattan, the Times reports. Wolf and Melania Trump moved in similar social circles, and in 2010 the first lady attended Winston Wolkoff’s 40th birthday party.
In emails to the Times, Winston Wolkoff defended her firm and said most of the $26 million was spent on the costs of organizing the inauguration, including paying for satellite feeds. She said her firm kept $1.62 million to pay the staff.
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She also said the first lady’s decision had nothing to do with the inauguration contract and that she still maintains her relationship with her.
“I expect to remain a trusted source for advice and support on an informal basis,” she told the Times.
Wolkoff was Melania Trump’s first hire in January 2017 for her official government office.