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Justice Dept. sues to seize profits of tell-all Melania Trump book, citing White House nondisclosure pact

An attorney for Winston Wolkoff did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Winston Wolkoff, 50, had a 15-year friendship with Melania Trump before she was ousted in 2018 as an unpaid senior adviser to the first lady in a scandal involving President Trump’s $107 million inauguration. Winston Wolkoff has said she felt “betrayed” when news accounts focused on $26 million paid to her event-planning firm by the inauguration. Most of the money went to pay for inaugural events, and she personally retained $484,126, The Washington Post has reported.

In the book, Winston Wolkoff described what she viewed as extensive mismanagement and opaque accounting for the inauguration, after which she cooperated with law enforcement investigators.

But the former right-hand events planner to Vogue editor Anna Wintour has created a larger media storm this month by playing excerpts of phone conversations that she began secretly recording with the first lady in February 2018 without her knowledge.

Melania Trump’s chief of staff, Stephanie Grisham, has lambasted Winston Wolkoff for the recordings.

“Secretly taping the first lady and willfully breaking an NDA to publish a salacious book is a clear attempt at relevance,” Grisham said in an Oct. 2 statement to CNN. “The timing of this continues to be suspect — as does this never-ending exercise in self-pity and narcissism.”

The lawsuit is likely to draw renewed attention to the tapes, which capture Melania Trump venting in profane language about her frustrations with critical media coverage, expectations about her role in planning White House Christmas decorations and defending the administration’s separation of migrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Who gives a f— about the Christmas stuff and decorations?” Trump said in one portion played in interviews with Winston Wolkoff by CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

On another recording, the first lady refers to porn

Proposal to hasten herd immunity grabs White House attention, appalls top scientists

WASHINGTON — Maverick scientists who call for allowing the coronavirus to spread freely at “natural” rates among healthy young people while keeping most aspects of the economy up and running have found an audience inside the White House and at least one state capitol.

The scientists met last week with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist who has emerged as an influential adviser to President Donald Trump on the pandemic.

When asked for comment, HHS referred a reporter to Azar’s subsequent Twitter statement about the meeting: “We heard strong reinforcement of the Trump Administration’s strategy of aggressively protecting the vulnerable while opening schools and the workplace.”

A senior administration official told reporters in a background briefing call Monday that the proposed strategy — which has been denounced by other infectious-disease experts and has been called “fringe” and “dangerous” by National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins — supports what has been Trump’s policy for months.

“We’re not endorsing a plan. The plan is endorsing what the president’s policy has been for months. The president’s policy — protect the vulnerable, prevent hospital overcrowding, and open schools and businesses — and he’s been very clear on that,” the official said.

“Everybody knows that 200,000 people died. That’s extremely serious and tragic. But on the other hand, I don’t think society has to be paralyzed, and we know the harms of confining people to their homes,” the official added.

Trump has long chafed at the economic damage from shutdowns imposed to control the pandemic, and has repeatedly pushed states to reopen, at one point threatening to withhold federal funding from states that did not open schools. After he contracted the virus and developed symptoms of COVID-19 serious enough to require hospitalization, Trump tweeted, “Don’t be afraid of

McConnell breaks from White House-Democratic negotiations, unveils separate bill

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced he will release a separate stimulus proposal worth $500 billion, significantly lower than the deal Democrats and the White House are negotiating.

“We’re going to go back on the floor next week, again, with a proposal more narrowly targeted,” McConnell said at an event in Kentucky on Tuesday. “I want to give my friends on the other side one more chance to do highly-targeted relief that the country desperately needs.”

The new proposal includes funding for the Payroll Protection Program (PPP), extra unemployment benefits, money for schools, and liability protections for businesses. McConnell is expected to put the proposal for a vote after the Senate returns on October 19.

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 20: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (L) listens to U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters while hosting Republican congressional leaders and members of Trump's cabinet in the Oval Office at the White House July 20, 2020 in Washington, DC. Trump and the congressional leaders talked about a proposed new round of financial stimulus to help the economy during the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (L) listens to U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters while hosting Republican congressional leaders and members of Trump’s cabinet in the Oval Office at the White House July 20, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)

Soon after McConnell made his comments on the new targeted proposal, the president reiterated his support for a larger stimulus deal, tweeting “STIMULUS! Go big or go home!!!” on Tuesday.

The White House’s latest proposal is around $1.8 trillion, up from $1.6 trillion, and closer to the price tag of the Democrats’ latest $2.2 trillion stimulus proposal that passed the House in September.

McConnell’s new proposal has similar provisions to the one the GOP released in early September, which was worth $650 billion, but only $300 billion of that was new spending with the rest being repurposed money. The previous package was rejected in the Senate.

At least 38 states have paid out all their funds available under the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program. (David Foster/Yahoo Finance)
At least 41 states have paid out all their funds available under the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program. (David Foster/Yahoo Finance)

‘We cannot get an agreement just by folding’

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

A bipartisan delegation of governors speaks to the media outside the White House in Washington

A bipartisan delegation of governors speak to the media outside of the White House in Washington, DC on December 4, 2012, after meeting with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet discuss the actions needed to keep our economy growing and find a balanced approach to reduce our deficit. Pictured (l-r) Gary Herbert (R-UT), Mary Fallin (R-OK), Scott Walker (R-WI), Mike Beebe (D-AR) and Jack Markell (D-DE). UPI/Pete Marovich/Pool

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White House Halloween to be ‘modified’ to meet CDC guidelines: report

The White House’s Halloween celebration will take place despite the coronavirus pandemic, albeit in “modified” form, CNN reported Tuesday.

Plans for the event are “full-steam ahead,” a source familiar with the White House’s planning told the network.

The specific modifications will include face masks and other mitigation measures, but the source did not offer further details. The annual event typically features the president and first lady handing out candy to local children on the White House South Lawn.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTwo ethics groups call on House to begin impeachment inquiry against Barr Trump relishes return to large rallies following COVID-19 diagnosis McGrath: McConnell ‘can’t get it done’ on COVID-19 relief MORE and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpEric Trump falsely calls president’s coronavirus treatment a vaccine Trump rallies supporters at White House in first event since COVID-19 diagnosis Christie released from the hospital after COVID-19 diagnosis MORE were diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier this month, with the president requiring a weekend in the hospital.

White House physician Sean Conley has said the president has tested negative and is no longer contagious. Trump has since returned to the campaign trail and resumed large rallies and events, holding a White House campaign event Saturday and a Florida campaign rally Monday.

Several other infections have been linked to a White House Rose Garden event last month nominating Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, including those of Sens. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisDemocrats warn of ObamaCare threat from Barrett, Trump Gloves come off in Barrett confirmation hearing GOP senator attends Barrett hearings in person after COVID-19 diagnosis MORE (R-N.C.), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGOP senator attends Barrett hearings in person after COVID-19 diagnosis GOP Rep. Mike Bost tests positive for COVID-19 Harrison calls on Graham to take a COVID-19