‘Melania and Me’, out now, is a spectacular exercise in icy ...


‘Melania and Me’, out now, is a spectacular exercise in icy revenge

The author’s friendship with the first lady lasted years before crumbling. Shouldn’t she have known better?

Harriet Alexander

Stephanie Winston Wolkoff didn’t like what she was hearing. It was January 2018, and inside the White House she was asked to go over the forthcoming release of official financial declarations detailing Donald Trump’s inauguration as US president 12 months earlier. “My spidey senses were going full tilt. I was practically a tarantula,” she writes. “The actual numbers didn’t add up.”

She was right to be concerned. A month later, the white elephant that was the inauguration would be dissected for all to see. It was the most expensive inauguration in history, costing $107m (about R1,7bn). Donors, who paid for it, were furious; $3.6m (about R60m) was paid to the Trump Hotel in Washington DC and $3.99m (about R66,5m) to design and print tickets, which she now says she never saw.

Winston Wolkoff would be thrown to the wolves, as she saw it, falsely portrayed as having pocketed millions and then forced out. “I can’t believe how blind I was to the depth of their deception and lack of common decency,” she writes. Having read her feverish and furious account, Melania and Me, neither can I.  From the beginning, US first lady Melania and Donald Trump, and their family — in particular their daughter Ivanka — are portrayed as scheming, manipulative and deeply unpleasant people...

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