Former Melania Trump Aide Calls First Lady's Marriage 'Transactional'

A former adviser to Melania Trump and author of a memoir about her relationship with the first lady has described the first couple's marriage as a "transactional" one.

The Quote

In an interview with the BBC, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff dismissed rumors that Melania Trump was a victim who wanted a divorce, telling the program Newsnight: "I do believe it is a transactional marriage. Donald got arm candy, the Vogue cover legitimized Melania which legitimized Donald as well, and Melania got two dynamic decades.

"She was a young model, she was striving, she didn't have the success yet. She met Donald, she married, she had a son, she became an American citizen and 10 years after that, she is the first lady of the United States.

"So I do believe it was a magic moment and I also believe it was a made-for-TV moment."

Why it Matters

While many books have been written about the president, Winston Wolkoff's book Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with the First Lady, was the first insider look at the Melania Trump.

According to the New York Times, the president's wife keeps a tight rein on both her allies and her image.

Winston Wolkoff met the then Melania Knauss in 2003 when she worked at Vogue, whose editor Anna Wintour helped craft a debut in New York society for the future Mrs. Trump, The Times reported. She appeared on the magazine's cover in February 2005.

Winston Wolkoff was in charge of President Trump's 2017 inauguration, which cost a record $107 million and faced criticism for inflated billings.

She started recording conversations with the first lady after Winston Wolkoff was accused of profiting excessively from the event and her book puts forward her side of the story. The pair are no longer on speaking terms.

A recent Morning Consult poll found Melania Trump to be the most popular Republican figure, ahead of the president. Her RNC speech was also among the best received during the event.

The first lady was praised for the conciliatory speech, in which she pushed for racial unity and cementing her status as a key political asset for her husband.

The Counterpoint

Stephanie Grisham, Melania Trump's chief of staff and spokesperson, said in a previous statement that Winston Wolkoff's book is "not only wildly self-aggrandizing, it's just not truthful.

"It is an exercise in bizarre twisting of the truth and misguided blame for the sake of self-pity. It's unfortunate and concerning that she's overstated their friendship and her very brief role in the White House to this degree."

Melania Trump tweeted last week, in a veiled reference to Wolkoff's remarks to the media, to criticize "delusional & malicious gossip."

Donald and Melania Trump
Donald Trump leads first lady Melania Trump off the podium during the RNC on August 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. Her former adviser has written a memoir about their friendship. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images