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white house drama

Melania Trump's former adviser says White House isn't telling the truth about her departure

A year after parting ways with the White House, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff — a former adviser to first lady Melania Trump and a contractor for President Trump's inaugural committee — is speaking out about her departure, stressing that she wasn't fired and has the emails to prove it.

"Was I fired? No," she told The New York Times on Monday. "Did I personally receive $26 million or $1.6 million? No. Was I thrown under the bus? Yes." Winston Wolkoff and Melania Trump knew each other in New York, and she was asked to help plan inaugural events after Trump's surprise victory. The inaugural committee, led by financier Thomas Barrack Jr., brought in a record $107 million in donations.

In February 2018, the inaugural committee filed a financial disclosure statement showing that Winston Wolkoff's company WIS Media Partners was paid $26 million. At the time, Winston Wolkoff had an employment arrangement with the White House known as a "gratuitous service agreement," and she received a letter last Feb. 20 from Stefan Passantino, deputy White House counsel, telling her all such contracts were being terminated, she said. Winston Wolkoff told the Times that Passantino let her known "you didn't do anything wrong," and this had nothing to do with the inaugural spending.

The Times reviewed a letter from Melania Trump sent that same day, which told Winston Wolkoff this was "not personal." What's bothered Winston Wolkoff is the way the White House announced her departure, she said. The first lady's spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, said they "severed" ties, and "that was not fair or accurate," Winston Wolkoff told the Times; she says it also wasn't right for White House staffers to tell media outlets she was fired due to the inaugural committee's spending. Read more about what Winston Wolkoff says she was told behind the scenes and how she is working with prosecutors investigating the inaugural committee at The New York Times.