The US Justice Department filed suit Tuesday against a former aide to Melania Trump over her tell-all book on the US first lady.
The department said that Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who published the book "Melania and Me" last month, had committed not to disclose information about President Donald Trump's wife that was gleaned from her position as a White House volunteer.
While Wolkoff, who worked on an unpaid basis for Melania during 2017-2018, was not a federal employee, the suit says she nevertheless signed an federally enforceable "contract" called a gratuitous services agreement.
In that agreement, she was "specifically prohibited from publishing, reproducing or otherwise divulging any such information to any unauthorized person or entity in whole or in part."
She also was forbidden from profiting on what she learned in the White House, without the approval of White House lawyers, the suit said.
"Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship With the First Lady," purported to lift the veil off the 50-year-old ex-model of Slovenian origin who became the third wife of the real estate billionaire turned president.
It portrays a much more active and decisive Melania than generally understood, and depicted her as a bitter rival of Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka, labelling her and her husband Jared Kushner as "snakes."
Wolkoff fell out with the Trumps over a scandal related to millions of dollars that went unaccounted for in the president's inauguration in January 2017, which she helped organize.
Earlier this year the attorney general of Washington sued Trump's inaugural committee and the president's Trump Organization business, alleging the Trump's profited heavily on the events.
Communications and records from Wolkoff are cited as evidence that contributed to the suit.
The lawsuit says Wolkoff was not free from her obligations to submit the book to Melania Trump and White House lawyers after she stopped working there.
While the Justice Department warned Wolkoff and her publisher Simon & Schuster in July of the possible violation of her agreement, it did not take action until after the book was published.
The lawsuit seeks to seize all of Wolkoff's profits from the book.