In an administration full of grifters, back-biters, con artists, and convicted criminals is it any surprise that loyalty and fair dealing flowing from the top isn t exactly the norm?
But that s the complaint from Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who worked as a contractor for President Donald Trump s 2016 inauguration and an adviser for First Lady Melania Trump. Winston Wolkoff, described in the New York Times as "a New York socialite who is best known for her role in producing the Met Gala," left the White House last year under a cloud of rumors that her company profited handsomely (to the tune of more than $1 million) from her inauguration work. Now, she wants to set the record straight: She wasn t fired, she says. She didn t make millions. No, she was "thrown under the bus" amid negative publicity over inaugural spending.
It s tough to have sympathy for someone who voluntarily worked for a notoriously disloyal and self-dealing family, with a long-standing reputation of allegedly refusing to pay workers and doing whatever necessary to maintain power and status. Even the Donald J. Trump Foundation was a do-gooder façade, existing, as New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood said last December, "as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump s business and political interests," and of engaging in "a shocking pattern of illegality." (A lawyer for the Trump Foundation, Alan S. Futerfas, told the New York Times that Underwood was making a "misleading statement" and trying "to politicize this matter.")
New York Times: Former Trump inauguration official says she was thrown under the bus
That the Trump family throws people under the bus when they become inconvenient is not news. Just ask his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. Or his former fixer and lawyer, Michael Cohen. Or former administration members Rex Tillerson, H. R. McMaster, and Dina Powell. Or the entire nation of Canada.
The question isn t who Trump has screwed over or fed to the wolves. It s who he hasn t. I m sorry Winston Wolkoff feels wronged. But it s hard not to hear her complaints sound a little too much like Adrean Bott s viral tweet: " I never thought leopards would eat MY face, sobs woman who voted for the Leopards Eating People s Faces Party."
Winston Wolkoff is reportedly cooperating with federal prosecutors looking into the inauguration spending which, despite fairly anemic attendance, was extravagant. Much of the money went right into the Trump family coffers, with more than $1.5 million spent at the Trump Hotel, according to reporting in the New York Times.
The word that made history this week
Who could have guessed that a family willing to funnel inauguration funds into its own businesses, operating with unreserved impunity and a total disregard for the basic ethical considerations that typically come with holding public office, would also operate with total disregard for the basic ethical considerations that typically come with hiring -- and severing from -- contractors like Winston Wolkoff?
It s a good thing that she s cooperating with law enforcement (and more than can be said for a whole host of other Trump associates). But doing something resembling the right thing after enabling and benefiting from shockingly bad behavior isn t particularly laudable. (Ms. Winston Wolkoff told the New York Times she could not discuss the inaugural spending because of a non-disclosure agreement with the inaugural committee)
The presidency isn t the Met Gala. When you erode trust in the government, and when leaders use the office of the president to enrich themselves and their cronies,democracy falters. The consequences are far-reaching, and they are profound.
By the time Trump was inaugurated, it was no secret that he was racist and sexist. He had been accused by numerous women of sexual harassment and assault (he denies it), and had himself -- on an infamous video -- bragged about assaulting women. His poor treatment of workers, and his penchant for lying and swindling, were well-known. He was already attacking the press. He had encouraged a hostile foreign power to use illegal means to undermine his opponent.
We all knew who Trump was. That Winston Wolkoff was happy to set that aside to get closer to power and, one imagines, increase her social currency doesn t make her particularly sympathetic when she gets burned.
She s busy disputing the terms of her departure, arguing that she wasn t fired from the White House. Her embarrassment is misplaced. She shouldn t be worried about what people think of her exit -- whether it was a departure or a dismissal. She should be embarrassed she was ever avaricious enough to work for this First Family in the first place.