Feb 16, 2018

Melania Trump retains adviser whose firm was paid $26 million from Inauguration

From left: David and Stephanie Winston Wolkoff with Melania and Donald Trump at a 2008 event in New York City. Photo: Billy Farrell / Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Melania Trump hasn’t fired her longtime friend Stephanie Winston Wolkoff even after the New York Times broke the news that President Trump's Inaugural Committee paid Wolkoff’s newly-established company a staggering $26 million.

Why it matters: Grisham told Axios the First Lady had no involvement with the person in charge of the Inaugural Committee and "had no knowledge of how funds were spent." But, even after learning of Wolkoff's payday, Melania Trump has kept her on as her adviser. It’s unclear what tasks, exactly, she performs for the First Lady.

One more thing: The White House points out that Wolkoff works as a “volunteer” for the First Lady, but one could argue she's already done very well out of the relationship:

  • According to the White House's 2017 Annual Report to Congress on staff personnel, the highest paid staffers (those in Trump's core West Wing staff) make roughly $180k a year.
  • Although we don’t know how much of the $26 million Wolkoff reaped in personal profit, she would have to work 144 years as a top White House adviser to earn that amount.

Go deeper

Trump flags travel adversaries for New York, New Jersey, Connecticut

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

President Trump said Saturday night the CDC would issue a "strong" travel advisory" for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut and that a "quarantine will not be necessary."

The big picture: With more than 121,000 people infected, the U.S. has the most COVID-19 cases in the world, exceeding China and Italy, per data from Johns Hopkins. A second wave of American cities, including Boston, Detroit, New Orleans and Philadelphia, are reporting influxes of cases.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 7 mins ago - Health

Trump rules out quarantine in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut after pushback

President Trump on the White House grounds on Saturdya. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

President Trump tweeted Saturday night that he's decided not to introduce quarantine enforcement measures fo New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut, but a "strong" travel advisory will be issued for those states.

Why it matters: The president said hours earlier he was considering the move to combat the rise in novel coronavirus cases. But he received pushback, most notably from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who told CNN it would cause "chaos." "This would be a federal declaration of war on states," Cuomo added.

Go deeper: Updates on coronavirus in the U.S.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 660,706 — Total deaths: 30,652 — Total recoveries: 139,304.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 121,478 — Total deaths: 2,026 — Total recoveries: 1,072.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump is considering a quarantine on New York, parts of New Jersey and Connecticut.
  4. State updates: Alaska is latest state to issue a stay-at-home order — New York is trying to nearly triple its hospital capacity in less than a month and has moved its presidential primary to June 23. Some Midwestern swing voters that supported Trump's handling of the virus less than two weeks ago are now balking at his call for the U.S. to be "opened up" by Easter.
  5. World updates: In Spain, over 1,400 people were confirmed dead between Thursday to Saturday.
  6. 🚀 Space updates: OneWeb filed for bankruptcy amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  7. Hollywood: Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have returned to U.S. after being treated for coronavirus.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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