In the weeks before it happened, President Trump’s inauguration was shaping up to be such a chaotic mess that a key organizer felt compelled to reach out to a surprising person in the hope of making things better: Michael Cohen.
That’s from a Thursday CNN report, which details concerns that former Melania Trump friend Stephanie Winston Wolkoff raised during the planning process for the January 2017 event.
The story describes how Wolkoff, a former events planner for the Met Gala, was either brushed off or ignored when trying to nail down details about the inaugural’s budgeting.
In one reported exchange with longtime inaugural contractor Hargrove, an events production firm, Wolkoff wrote that she was concerned about “many line items that were not reflected, rentals that were not sourced, budgets that were not accurate and décor elements that were not feasible.”
“I am expressing my concerns because I have no options at this point,” she wrote.
Hargrove’s then-president reportedly replied that “our only goal here is to make this the most successful inauguration ever.”
The story suggests that Wolkoff continued to raise concerns internally with inaugural committee chairman Tom Barrack and its deputy chairman, Rick Gates. Both reportedly ignored Wolkoff’s pleas, prompting her to bring her worries about inaugural spending to Michael Cohen.
The hapless Trump attorney recorded the call, which wound up in the hands of Manhattan federal prosecutors after an April 2018 raid on his office, apartment, and hotel room.
It’s not clear what specifically was said on the call. But it sparked the interest of federal prosecutors, who have been investigating the inaugural committee since.
Wolkoff left the White House (and her friendship with Melania) last year, after being accused by then-Melania spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham of drawing up a “gratuitous services contract” with the inaugural committee.
Wolkoff denies any wrongdoing, and has reportedly been cooperating with the SDNY, as well as a D.C. attorney general, investigation into the inauguration.