Melania fires 'best friend' after paying her company $33m
US first lady Melania Trump has fired her friend Stephanie Winston Wolkoff amid backlash over the $US26 million ($33 million) she received to help plan Donald Trump's inauguration.
The New York Times reported the sacking, saying Mr Trump was "enraged" over the huge bill.
Mrs Trump's spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said the office had "severed the gratuitous services contract with Ms. Wolkoff," who she said had been employed as "a special government employee" to work on specific projects.
"We thank her for her hard work and wish her all the best," she said.
The New York Times reported two weeks ago that Mrs Winston Wolkoff's firm WIS Media Partners spent twice as much money than Barack Obama's inauguration despite drawing much fewer people.
She was reportedly fired last week.
WIS Media Partners was established as a company just weeks before the inauguration and Mrs Wolkoff was the first lady's first hire.
The pair has been friends for years, with Mrs Trump attending Mrs Winston Wolkoff's 40th birthday party in 2010 and has been regularly pictured on the social scene with the event planner.
Mrs Winston Wolkoff defended the sky-high bill, saying she and Mrs Trump were still close and that she would continue to offer her advice in an "informal" capacity.
"I was informed by the White House counsel's office that all gratuitous volunteer contracts were ended," she said. "I expect to remain a trusted source for advice and support on an informal basis."
"I am proud of the work that we did to support the inauguration," she said.
Mrs Winston Wolkoff said her firm "retained a total of $US1.62 million for all of its consulting and creative services, which was divided among our staff of 15 members (including myself)."
The New York Times said one of the subcontractors paid by Mrs Winston Wolkoff's firm included the team used by Mark Burnett, the creator of The Apprentice.
Mrs Trump's spokeswoman said the first lady "had no involvement" with the inaugural committee and that she "had no knowledge of how funds were spent."
Mrs Winston Wolkoff used to be an event planner for Vogue magazine and helped plan events, including the Met Gala.