'Blatant abuse of the government': DOJ files lawsuit against Melania Trump's former advisor over tell-all book
The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, former White House advisor and friend of first lady Melania Trump following the release of her tell-all book, "Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with the First Lady."
The 16-page lawsuit, filed on Tuesday, argues that Winston Wolkoff signed a blanket nondisclosure agreement during her White House which spanned from January 2017 to August 2017. Government lawyers also insist she was bound to a confidentiality agreement far beyond her tenure.
As a penalty for the alleged "breach of contract," the Justice Department is also seeking to offset all proceeds from the book to the federal government.
Shortly after the lawsuit was filed, Winston Wolkoff released a statement as she argued that the lawsuit is part of the Justice Department is attempt to silence her. Despite the lawsuit, Winston Wolkoff insists she did not violate any terms of confidentiality as the White House ultimately terminated the agreement.
"The President and First Lady's use of the U.S. Department of Justice to silence me is a violation of my First Amendment rights and a blatant abuse of the government to pursue their own personal interest and goals," Winston Wolkoff said in a statement. "I fulfilled all of the terms of the Gratuitous Service Agreement and the confidentiality provisions ended when the White House terminated agreement. With the publication of my book 'Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with the First Lady,' I have exercised my right to free expression. I will not be deterred by these bullying tactics."
The lawsuit quickly drew criticism from legal experts who believe it is a waste of the Justice Department's resources as it appears to be more of a personal issue regarding the first lady and her former confidante.
"This is a complete abuse of the Justice Department's finite resources to bring a personal lawsuit on behalf of the First Lady against a former advisor," said Brad Moss, a national security attorney. "The case law has been expressly clear for decades that former officials cannot be contractually censored for anything other than classified information, and no amount of legal hairsplitting over Wolkoff's 'status' as a volunteer is going to change that."