First Lady Melania Trump expressed support for the care that migrant children separated from their families received in US detention centres, suggesting the facilities were better than what they had at home with their parents, in a series of recordings that came to light on Thursday.
The tapes aired on CNN come from Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former aide to the first lady who released a book last month titled Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with the First Lady. She is promoting the book in interviews and released recordings to CNN of some of her private conversations with Mrs Trump. In one, the first lady discussed her take on the conditions migrant children faced in the US after being brought in by “coyotes”.
“The kids, they say, ‘Wow I will have my own bed? I will sleep on the bed? I will have a cabinet for my clothes.’ It’s so sad to hear, but they didn’t have that in their own countries. They sleep on the floor,” she said in one excerpt. “They are taken care of nicely there. But you know, yeah, they are not with parents. It’s sad. But when they come here alone or with coyotes or illegally, you know, you need to do something.”
At another point, she opined that some immigrants seeking asylum in the US were coached about what to say. “They go over and they say like, ‘Oh, we will be killed by a gang member, we will be, you know, it’s so dangerous.’ So they are allowed to stay here.” She added: “Some of them are using that line.”
Mrs Trump also complained about working on the annual White House Christmas decorations before pivoting to the migrant children.
“I’m working like a – my a** off at Christmas stuff … You know, who gives a f*** about Christmas stuff and decoration?” she asked Wolkoff. “I say that I’m working on Christmas planning for the Christmas, and they said, ‘Oh, what about the children?’ That they were separated.
“Where they were saying anything when Obama did that?” she said.
Wolkoff left the White House in February 2018 when her contract was terminated. She helped produce Trump’s inauguration and later worked for the first lady as an unpaid White House adviser.
The White House has dismissed her book as “full of mistruths and paranoia”.
On the release of the tapes on Thursday, the first lady’s chief of staff and spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, said Wolkoff’s “only intent was to secretly tape the first lady in order to peddle herself and her salacious book.
“There is no way to know if these recordings have been edited and it’s clear the clips were hand-picked and presented with no context. The first lady remains focused on her family and serving our country,” Grisham said.