Melania Trump ends 'gratuitous contract' with longtime friend amid outrage over $26 million inauguration payments
Melania Trump (Shutterstock)

First Lady Melania Trump has cut ties with a friend and adviser who was paid $26 million for event planning at President Donald Trump's inauguration after the New York Times reported on the existence of the payments.

The Times revealed the payments to the First Lady's friend Stephanie Winston Wolkoff on February 15. In the interim, the president reportedly became "enraged" upon learning that $3.7 million was paid David Monn, a friend of Wolkoff's.

A spokeswoman for the First Lady said her office had "severed the gratuitous services contract with Ms. Wolkoff," who was characterized as a "special government employee."

Trump's spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said the First Lady "had no involvement" and "had no knowledge of how funds were spent."

Responding to the Times, Wolkoff said twice that coverage of the payout was "completely unfair," but did not cite examples.