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DOJ accuses ex-Melania Trump aide of violating nondisclosure agreement

The Justice Department on Tuesday filed a complaint against Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former adviser to first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpPence travel questioned after aides test positive Pence adviser Marty Obst tests positive for COVID-19 Documents show Trump campaign ignored coronavirus guidelines at Duluth rally: report MORE, alleging that she breached a 2017 nondisclosure agreement with the publication of her new tell-all book.

Department of Justice (DOJ) lawyers filed a complaint in federal court in Washington, D.C., accusing Wolkoff of breaching a gratuitous services agreement signed when she volunteered to serve as an aide to Trump by publishing her book, “Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with the First Lady.” The book was released by publisher Simon & Schuster last month.

The 16-page compliant says that the agreement, a copy of which is included in the filing, prevented Wolkoff from disclosing nonpublic information about her work without authorization from the White House. It states that Wolkoff violated the agreement by not submitting a draft of the book to the White House for review or receiving written permission to publish it.

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The complaint says that the DOJ notified Wolkoff’s attorney on July 15 that the publication of the book would violate the terms of her agreement, but that she moved ahead regardless of the administration’s outreach.

“Ms. Wolkoff voluntarily, willingly, and knowingly entered into a contractual agreement with the United States of America, allowing her access to the White House and sensitive information in consideration for agreeing to certain conditions on her use and dissemination of that information,” the complaint states.

“Ms. Wolkoff breached the GSA by disclosing her manuscript to Simon & Schuster, and causing it to be published, without having received written authorization from the Chief of Staff to the First Lady or the Office of White House Counsel,” it continues.

The DOJ is asking a federal judge to declare that Wolkoff breached her contractual obligations and her fiduciary obligations, and to set aside profits from the book in a constructive trust.

In a statement, Wolkoff said she fulfilled the terms of her agreement with the government and accused the president and first lady of abusing the powers of the DOJ in an effort to silence her. 

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“The President and First Lady’s use of the US 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 interests and goals," Wolkoff said in an emailed statement late Tuesday. "I fulfilled all of the terms of the Gratuitous Service Agreement and the confidentiality provisions ended when the White House terminated the 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.”

Wolkoff was a close friend to Melania Trump and worked as a volunteer adviser in the East Wing from 2017 to 2018, and in her book describes their friendship and its breakdown.

Wolkoff also recently released secret recordings to CNN of the first lady expressing frustration over criticism she experienced because of President TrumpDonald John TrumpFox News president, top anchors advised to quarantine after coronavirus exposure: report Six notable moments from Trump and Biden's '60 Minutes' interviews Biden on attacks on mental fitness: Trump thought '9/11 attack was 7/11 attack' MORE’s immigration policies and bemoaning her Christmas decorating responsibilities as first lady.