Melania Trump Scolds the Attention on 'Malicious Gossip' After Ex-Friend's Biting Tell-All

The first lady asked Thursday that that the public focus instead be on her roundtable about the "nation's drug crisis"

Melania Trump
First Lady Melania Trump. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Melania Trump criticized "delusional & malicious gossip" on Thursday, the same week a former friend and adviser has been sharing scathing accounts of her time in the White House with the first lady.

Trump, 50, did not specifically mention Stephanie Winston Wolkoff's new tell-all, Melania and Me, though she implied that the headlines Wolkoff's accounts have made — including revelations that Trump used a private email for government work, despite President Donald Trump's criticism of Hillary Clinton for the same — were distracting from more important issues.

"This afternoon I will be hosting a roundtable with some incredible citizens in recovery & the amazing organizations that support them," the first lady tweeted. "I encourage the media to focus & report on the nation's drug crisis, not on delusional & malicious gossip."

On Thursday afternoon, Mrs. Trump hosted a White House roundtable with the Office of National Drug Control Policy, commemorating National Recovery Month. Opioid addiction is one of the central parts of her "Be Best" initiative focusing on child welfare.

"The coronavirus pandemic has increased feelings of loneliness and sadness. For vulnerable populations, it has also increased the risk of substance abuse. But the American people are strong and always set up to help one another in times of need," the first lady said.

"We are here to highlight two important themes in recovery: the power of recovery tools and resources in the workplace and the role personal connections to others plays in achieving sobriety," she said, noting how the effects of addiction on children and families were of particular importance to her.

"I have learned that addiction and drug abuse are universal issues that do not discriminate," the first lady said, adding, "I believe that promoting education and awareness on this issue is critical to overcoming this terrible trend which is why I'm joining you here today."

Mrs. Trump was joined Thursday by Surgeon General Jerome Adams (who demonstrated the use of Naloxone, an overdose treatment) as well as top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, North Dakota First Lady Kathryn Burgum and others.

Earlier this week, Stephanie Grisham, the chief of staff for the first lady, blasted Winston Wolkoff as "dishonest," claiming that her book is "full of mistruths and paranoia."

"Anybody who secretly tapes their self-described best friend is by definition, dishonest," Grisham said in a statement to PEOPLE. "Wolkoff builds herself up while belittling and blaming everyone she worked with, yet she still managed to be the victim. Sadly, this is a deeply insecure woman whose need to be relevant defies logic."

However, Wolkoff maintained in an interview with The Washington Post this week that what she writes in her book is "100 percent verifiable and factual."

“This isn’t about me doing something to Melania,” she told the paper. “This is about me sharing with the world who this family is and what goes on behind closed doors.”

"It’s upsetting to see them snow the country the same way they did it to me," she said. "They’re hurting so many people"

Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, Melania Trump
Stephanie Winston Wolkoff (left) and Melania Trump in 2008. BILLY FARRELL/Patrick McMullan via Getty

Wolkoff, a high-profile events planner who has known President Trump's wife since 2003, followed Mrs. Trump to the White House in 2017 as an unpaid East Wing adviser after helping plan the inaugural events.

She was ousted from the Trump orbit in 2018 over what she has said was a scapegoating about the inauguration cost — insisting she was "thrown under the bus" rather than fired.

One of Wolkoff's many recollections is that both she and the first lady used email accounts that were not from the White House, Wolkoff told the Post. The paper said they reviewed messages seemingly from Mrs. Trump's private email that included discussions of government business such as hiring, finances and other topics.

In a later statement, the first lady's spokeswoman did not dispute that Mrs. Trump used a private email but said that she "and her staff have taken steps to meet the standard of the Presidential Records Act, relating to the preservation of records that adequately document official activities."

In 2017, Ivanka Trump — who Wolkoff says had friction with the first lady — reportedly used a personal email account to send a number of messages discussing government business as well.

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