The New Abnormal: On the Outs with the Trumps

An MSN news article relates the curious case of Ms. Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, friend (or perhaps former friend) of First Lady Melania Trump. Ms. Winston Wolkoff, it turns out, was well paid for helping plan the presidential inauguration for Doald J. Trump. Perhaps just a bit too well-paid. Melania and Donald have terminated their contract with her, and apparently it wasn’t all amicable, despite the verbal window dressing.

They said the move was prompted by displeasure from the Trumps over the news, first reported by The New York Times, that a firm created by Ms. Winston Wolkoff was paid nearly $26 million for event planning by a nonprofit group that oversaw Mr. Trump’s inauguration and surrounding events in January 2017.

Mr. Trump, who is notoriously tight with his money, was also enraged to learn that Ms. Winston Wolkoff brought on a close friend, David Monn, to help plan inaugural events, according to people who spoke to him. Mr. Monn’s firm was paid $3.7 million, according to a tax filing by the nonprofit group, the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee.

Yep. *Other* people doing the very same stuff that is branded Trump modus operandi will piss off Trump. Cronyism hacks off Mr.-I-have-my-son-in-law-as-a-senior-adviser and Mr.-can’t-my-pilot-run-the-FAA?. Grabbing fistfuls of loosely-held money offends Mr.-art-of-the-deal. The irony of cronyism-gone-awry that suffuses this story makes it notable. Want to plan an inauguration? Hey I’ve got a close personal friend who would be perfect for that. And they have a close personal friend who can help them. Why bother advertising for bids and actually having to read them, then having a defined contract for services? That’s so tedious.

I do have to wonder what “tight-fisted” and “enraged” has to do with the inaugural fund. That would make sense if somehow the unspent remainder has been or was going to be funneled to Trump or the Trump Organization.

But the annoyed Trump is also the perplexed Trump who wonders why not everyone adores him, despite the fact that he does, on a much more massive scale, exactly the things that annoyed him here.

Congratulations to Ms. Winston Wolkoff, who appears to me to have successfully grifted the first family of grifters, delivered an under-attended inauguration, actually got paid in a Trump-run activity, and has made a clean break with those folks while keeping a tight fist on the cash in hand. I’d suggest looking to the Panama Papers and other dumps for hints on how to get with the 1% program of international irresponsibility. You’ve earned it. Friend-of-family “planning” services: $26M. Friend-of-friend-of-family consulting on “planning” services: $3.7M. Coming up with corruption so foul that even Trump gags on it? Priceless.

Update: 2021-02-12:

It appears that I should have had a more skeptical attitude towards this news item, and that I owe Ms. Winston-Wolkoff an apology. See this Vanity Fair article revealing that Wolkoff’s part in this was straight-up event contracting with a fraction of a million actually making its way to her personally, but that this gave the Trumps (both Melania and Donald) an opportunity to attempt to blame someone else for what happened to the rest of the inaugural fund. I should have paid closer attention to the lead authorship of the New York Times article that led this off, as I have my own reasons for reduced trust in that particular source.

I am sorry, Stephanie Winston-Wolkoff, and I wish you well in your further endeavors once you have fully extricated yourself from these circumstances.

Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Data scientist in real estate and econometrics. Blogger. Speaker. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.

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