Melania Trump filed a lawsuit against the Daily Mail and a Maryland political blogger on Thursday for publishing "false and tremendously damaging" statements claiming the would-be first lady previously worked as an "escort,” according to court documents and her lawyer.
Trump sued Mail Media, Inc. which publishes the Daily Mail, as well as Webster Griffin Tarpley, who runs the blog Tarpley.net, in a lawsuit filed in the state circuit court of Montgomery County, Maryland.
“These defendants made several statements about Mrs. Trump that are 100% false and tremendously damaging to her personal and professional reputation,” lawyer Charles Harder said in a statement. “Their many lies include, among others, that Mrs. Trump supposedly was an 'escort' in the 1990s before she met her husband.”
Harder famously represented Hulk Hogan in his lawsuit against Gawker Media, which eventually led to the site shutting down.
The lawsuit cites an article on Tarpley.net that alleged that Melania Trump worked as a “high-end escort” and suffered from a “full-blown nervous breakdown” after the Republican convention, as well as an article published on the Daily Mail website referencing similar claims.
The suit says Trump is going after both publications for "in excess of $75,000" but Harder said in his statement that the “Defendants’ actions are so egregious, malicious and harmful to Mrs. Trump that her damages are estimated at $150 million dollars."
Tarpley removed the blog in question and published an apology and retraction on or about August 22, according to the suit.
But Tarpley also issued a response to the legal filing saying, "Melania Trump's lawsuit against me is without merit. Mrs. Trump is a public figure actively engaged in the Trump for president campaign. We are confident that Mrs. Trump will not be able to meet her high burden of proving the statements published about her on my website were defamatory in any way. Her lawsuit is a blatant attempt to intimidate not only me but journalists of all stripes into remaining silent with regard to public figures. This lawsuit is a direct affront to First Amendment principles and free speech in our democratic society."
The Daily Mail also published an extensive retraction online on Thursday, saying 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.'"
"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 Mr. Zampolli,” the retraction said.
The Daily Mail's retraction pointed out that "Among other things, the article noted that allegations have been made in a book available on Amazon about a modeling agency where Mrs. Trump worked in Milan being 'something like a gentleman's club,' and an article published by Suzy, a Slovenian magazine, alleged that Mrs. Trump's modeling agency in New York ... 'operated as an escort agency for wealthy clients.'"
Trump had previously placed several news organizations on notice of her legal claims, including the Daily Mail, according to statement from Harder on August 23.