U.S. First Lady Melania Trump speaks in front of the Republican Convention on day two in the Rose Garden of the White House on August 25, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images
The Justice Department on Tuesday sued the author of a book about First Lady Melania Trump, alleging that Stephanie Winston Wolkoff broke a nondisclosure agreement that prohibited her from divulging confidential information obtained while working for the president's wife.
The lawsuit in federal court in Washington, DC, calls on a judge to order Winston Wolkoff to donate any profits from her book, Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with the First Lady, to a government foundation.
Winston Wolkoff, who was close friends with Melania Trump, was previously a volunteer advisor to the First Lady after President Donald Trump took office in 2017.
The lawsuit, which was led by Assistant Attorney General John Coghlan, accuses Winston Wolkoff of "blanket breach" of breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty to the first lady.
The complaint states that Winston Wolkoff agreed to a so-called free service contract in 2017. That pact contained a confidentiality clause in which she "pledged to maintain strict confidentiality about" non-public, privileged and / or confidential information "that she might obtain while on duty," the lawsuit said.
That deal "did not include a termination date" for its terms, according to the lawsuit alleging that Wolkoff "had access to important confidential information relating to the First Lady's official duties and more private aspects of her role in the First Family." "
The Justice Department also claims that Winston Wolkoff had "indirect access to advisory information that the First Lady was privy to in connection with the official duties of the President on behalf of the country."
Former Vogue special event planner Stephanie Winston Wolkoff stops for a photo in front of the media on December 5, 2016 at Trump Tower in New York.
Kena Betancur | AFP | Getty Images
Despite Winston Wolkoff's promise of confidentiality, the Justice Department said she had "written a book promoting Simon & Schuster [the book's editor] as a" devastating tell-all "and an" epic scream of a tell-all "."
The book was published in early September.
The lawsuit states that Winston Wolkoff never presented a draft of the book to Melania Trump, her chief of staff, or the White House attorney's office, and "never received permission to disclose information learned through her work under the agreement" .
Winston Wolkoff previously told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow that she was contacted by both the White House and the Justice Department in the weeks leading up to the book's sale to stop publication.
"I had a cease and desist letter a few months ago," said Winston Wolkoff in this interview. "The last thing these people want is for the truth to be told."
In an interview with ABC's "The View" last month, Winston Wolkoff said, "I have not broken the NDA," referring to the nondisclosure agreement.
"I worked with First Amendment attorneys and pre-published attorneys all along, so this was handled extremely carefully," said Winston Wolkoff.
The lawsuit follows a failed legal effort by President Trump's late brother Robert to prevent the publication of yet another anthology written by her niece, Mary Trump, that portrays the president in a damned light.
Winston Wolkoff, 49, is a former fashion director for Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week and a former special events director for Vogue magazine. She was also the executive producer of Trump's inauguration.
Her book states that Melania Trump delayed her entry into the White House to allow her bathroom to be renovated because she wanted to avoid using the same shower and toilet that ex-first lady Michelle Obama used.
A spokeswoman for Melania Trump, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department and a press representative from Simon & Schuster did not immediately respond to requests for comments on the lawsuit.
First lady spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham previously told NBC News when asked about Winston Wolkoff: "Anyone who secretly records their self-described best friend is by definition dishonest."
"The book is full of falsehoods and paranoia and is clearly based on an imaginary need for revenge."
– CNBC's Kevin Breuninger and Jim Forkin contributed to this report.