Melania Trump discusses Stormy Daniels in secretly recorded tapes

Martin Pengelly in New York
·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Julio Cortez/AP</span>
Photograph: Julio Cortez/AP

Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a New York socialite turned author of a tell-all book about her relationship with Melania Trump, has released another recording of America’s first lady in embarrassingly candid conversation, this time discussing an adult film star accused of an affair with her husband.

Related: Melania Trump tapes reveal complaints on Christmas and migrant children row

On the recording Melania Trump discusses Stormy Daniels, who the first lady calls “the porn hooker”. Wolkoff released the recording on Mea Culpa, a podcast presented by Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former lawyer and fixer.

Cohen has also written a tell-all but Wolkoff’s book, Melania & Me, has perhaps become more of a headache for the White House, as the author releases recordings of conversations with the first lady that she says she made in self-defence.

Wolkoff left the White House amid investigations of fundraising for the inauguration. In February 2018, the New York Times reported that from $107m raised, a company started by Wolkoff received nearly $26m. Wolkoff reportedly banked $500,000. The Times also reported that a government watchdog accused the inaugural committee of “fiscal mismanagement at its worst”.

Wolkoff, who denies wrongdoing, says Melania Trump refused to defend her.

Speaking to Cohen, Wolkoff said she had “needed to let a reporter listen to the tapes, because [the White House] made sure that people didn’t believe what I was saying … once I had already been severed and accused of criminal activity.”

“The White House created a narrative,” she added, “because I didn’t follow along with the one they wanted.” That narrative, she said, was that the Trumps did not know about fundraising for the inaugural and any alleged improprieties.

“Nothing took place without Donald’s approval,” Wolkoff told Cohen. “Nothing took place without Melania knowing.”

Midway through the hour-long interview, Wolkoff played a snatch of tape in which the first lady complained about a Vogue photoshoot from 2018.

“Go Google and read it,” the first lady says. “Annie Leibovitz shot the porn hooker, and she will be [in] one of the issues, September or October.”

“What do you mean?” Wolkoff asks.

“Stormy,” Trump says.

Donald Trump denies an affair with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. But Cohen orchestrated a hush money payment in the case, an act that contributed to his three-year prison sentence arising from the work of special counsel Robert Mueller.

“Shut the fuck up,” Wolkoff responds on the tape. “For what?”

“It was yesterday it came up,” Melania Trump says. “For Vogue. It will be in Vogue. Annie Leibovitz shot her.”

Leibovitz photographed Daniels and her then attorney, Michael Avenatti, for an August 2018 story entitled Stormy Daniels Isn’t Backing Down.

Related: Melania & Me review: a friend spurned, a first lady burned and Donald Trump … unharmed

In her book, Wolkoff writes of meeting the then Melania Knauss at the Vogue offices in New York in 2003.

Speaking to Cohen, she said: “I actually opened the door for her while I was working at Vogue, and I think I was more of an attraction to Melania and Donald than they were for me. Because what were they doing for me? It wasn’t as if I needed anything from them. I actually saw Melania as this nice, sweet, young, striving model.”

Cohen also asked Wolkoff about how the first lady reacted to reports of her husband’s affairs, such as with Daniels, which the model says happened shortly after the birth of Melania’s son, Barron.

“She told me,” Wolkoff said, “that Donald had to be prepared for his whole life to be open to the media, to the world if he won [the presidency]. And in that moment I thought to myself, ‘And so do you.’”

Last week, the Trumps both announced they had contracted the coronavirus. On the same night, Wolkoff provided to CNN a recording of the first lady complaining about having to supervise White House decorations (“Who gives a fuck about the Christmas stuff?) and being criticized over her husband’s policy of separating migrant families (“Give me a fucking break”).