Melania Trump's Former Adviser Says First Lady Felt Children at Detention Centers Were Treated 'Nicely'
In 2018, the Trump administration came under fire over its “zero tolerance” immigration policy of separating undocumented immigrant parents from their children at the border.
At the time, First Lady Melania Trump sparked controversy when she wore a jacket that read, "I Really Don’t Care. Do U"’ to visit a detention center holding migrant kids in McAllen, Texas.
Though Mrs. Trump has previously said that the coat was a message to the media, her former friend and adviser Stephanie Winston Wolkoff's upcoming memoir Melania and Me provides more details into the infamous sartorial choice and the backlash it received — including how the first lady allegedly defended herself by claiming that the children at the holding centers were treated "nicely."
In an excerpt featured in Vanity Fair, Wolkoff gives details into a conversation with Mrs. Trump about the jacket, writing that the first lady said, "I’m driving liberals crazy."
"You know what? They deserve it," Wolkoff writes that Mrs. Trump told her, adding the first lady said people "connect stuff to my clothes" and that she wears things "because I like it."
Mrs. Trump then went on a rant about the media, Wolkoff writes, according to the magazine. "They all went crazy about the zero-tolerance policy at the border. But they don’t know what’s going on. The kids I met were brought in by coyotes, the bad people who are trafficking, and that’s why the kids were put in shelters. They’re not with their parents, and it’s sad. But the patrols told me the kids say, ‘Wow, I get a bed? I will have a cabinet for my clothes?’ It’s more than they have in their own country where they sleep on the floor. They are taking care nicely there.”
"Did Michelle Obama go to the border? She never did. Show me the pictures!" Wolkoff writes that the first lady then told her, according to excerpt.
A White House spokeswoman for the first lady did not respond to PEOPLE's requests for comment, though Mrs. Trump's spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham previously told MSNBC that Wolkoff's memoir "sounds like it’s just another one of those books that unfortunately people are writing. And you know, if there were any recordings taken, it’s really unfortunate to take advantage of somebody’s trust like that while being a friend.”
Mrs. Trump was photographed wearing a green jacket with the words "I Really Don’t Care. Do U?" printed on the back while boarding a plane to Texas in June 2018. She was seen wearing the coat, even after she was criticized on social media, while flying back to D.C. following her tour.
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Her husband, President Donald Trump, tweeted at the time: “‘I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?’ written on the back of Melania’s jacket, refers to the Fake News Media. Melania has learned how dishonest they are, and she truly no longer cares!”
Mrs. Trump later confirmed the jacket was a message to the media, explaining in an interview with ABC News in October 2018 that "it was for the people and for the left-wing media to show them that I don’t care. You will not stop me to do what I feel is right.”
“It was kind of a message,” she said. “I would prefer that they would focus on what I do and my initiatives, than what I wear.”
Melania and Me will be published on Sept. 1.