Attorneys for Melania Trump have filed a $75,000 defamation lawsuit against a Gaithersburg political blogger and the Daily Mail, which each published that the wife of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at one time worked for an escort service in the 1990s before she met her husband.
Melania Trump filed the lawsuit Thursday in Montgomery County Circuit Court where blogger Webster Griffin Tarpley lives and where the British tabloid transacts business, her lawsuit asserts.
Tarpley was sued for an Aug. 2 blog post titled “Where is Melania Trump” in which the article included a statement about the alleged escort work.
In the Maryland filing, Trump’s attorneys asserted Tarpley’s blog was false and that she did not work as an escort or as a prostitute and that she “did legitimate and legal modeling work for legitimate business entities.”
Trump’s attorneys contacted Tarpley on Aug. 21 and demanded a retraction, the filing says, adding that Tarpley published a retraction and apology a day later.
Tarpley did not respond to an email seeking comment on the defamation lawsuit, and telephone numbers listed in his name did not accept messages.
On his website, a posting attributed to Tarpley said:
“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.”
Also in Thursday’s lawsuit, Trump sought such damages from the Daily Mail, which published an Aug. 20 article that said Trump worked as an escort at a gentleman’s club in Milan before she moved to New York in 1996.
Trump’s attorneys wrote the “defamatory statements” in the article “were attacks on her reputation which discouraged members of the public from having a positive opinion of her.”
The Daily Mail removed the article from its website, but by the time of the filing it had not issued a retraction and apology, according to the complaint. The Daily Mail published a retraction and apology after the lawsuit was filed Thursday.
Although court documents set the lawsuit as seeking damages in excess of $75,000, in a statement, Melania Trump’s attorneys estimated damages at $150 million.
“These defendants made several statements about Mrs. Trump that are 100% false and tremendously damaging to her personal and professional reputation. Defendants broadcast their lies to millions of people throughout the U.S. and the world — without any justification,” Trump’s attorneys said in a statement about the lawsuit.