Melania Trump sues Daily Mail and Maryland blogger for libel
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Melania Trump sued The Daily Mail for libel, and The Daily Mail responded by retracting its story.
Trump filed suit against The Daily Mail and Tarpley, a U.S.-based blog, on Thursday, claiming that the two outlets made false and defamatory statements about her involvement in an escort service.
“These defendants made several statements about Mrs. Trump that are 100% false and tremendously damaging to her personal and professional reputation,” Charles Harder, a lawyer for Melania Trump — Donald Trump’s wife — said in a statement. The suit was filed in state court in Montgomery County, Maryland.
“Defendants broadcast their lies to millions of people throughout the U.S. and the world—without any justification,” Harder continued. “Their many lies include, among others, that Mrs. Trump supposedly was an ‘escort’ in the 1990s before she met her husband. Defendants’ actions are so egregious, malicious and harmful to Mrs. Trump that her damages are estimated at $150 million.”
Melania Trump had last week placed The Daily Mail, Tarpley and other news organizations on notice for what she and her attorney said were false and defamatory statements in reports about both her employment and immigration history.
Those notices were sent three days after The Daily Mail, a UK publication, published a report citing a story in a Slovenian magazine that claimed a New York modeling agency that once represented Trump “also operated as an escort agency for wealthy clients.” That report was then picked up or referenced by other news outlets, including Tarpley.
Harder, who also represented Hulk Hogan in his successful defamation suit against Gawker Media, confirmed at the time that the notices should be interpreted as a threat to sue.
Less than two hours after issuing the statement on Thursday, The Daily Mail retracted its story.
“The article… did not intend to state or suggest that these allegations are true, nor did it intend to state or suggest that Mrs. Trump ever worked as an ‘escort’ or in the ‘sex business,'” The Daily Mail wrote in its statement. “To the contrary, The Daily Mail newspaper article stated that there was no support for the allegations, and it provided adamant denials from Mrs. Trump’s spokesperson and from [Paolo] Zampolli,” the man who ran the modeling agency.
“The point of the article was that these allegations could impact the U.S. presidential election even if they are untrue,” the statement continued. “Mrs. Trump’s counsel in the U.S. and the U.K., have stated unequivocally that the allegations about the modeling agencies are false.”
“To the extent that anything in the Daily Mail’s article was interpreted as stating or suggesting that Mrs. Trump worked as an ‘escort’ or in the ‘sex business,’ that she had a ‘composite or presentation card for the sex business,’ or that either of the modeling agencies referenced in the article were engaged in these businesses, it is hereby retracted, and the Daily Mail newspaper regrets any such misinterpretation,” the statement read.
On Thursday evening, Harder told CNNMoney that Melania Trump would proceed with the lawsuit despite The Daily Mail’s retraction.