POLITICS

Melania Trump Sues Tabloid For $150 Million Over 'Escort Service' Report

Mrs. Trump's lawyer recently won a major case for Hulk Hogan against Gawker Media.

02/09/2016 8:13 AM AEST | Updated 02/09/2016 9:22 AM AEST
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Melania Trump, the wife of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, on Thursday filed a defamation lawsuit against the U.S. publisher of the Daily Mail and an unrelated blogger over their reports (since retracted) that she worked as an escort in the 1990s.

According to Melania Trump’s lawyer, the suit seeks $150 million in damages for the egregious, malicious and harmful actions of the publication and the blogger, and which were “tremendously damaging to her personal and professional reputation.”

The Daily Mail is one of a number of publications that reprinted reports from a Slovenian magazine, Suzy. The reports concern a former mentor of Melania Trump, modeling agent Paulo Zampolli, who employed her in the 1990s. The Daily Mail, citing Suzy, reported that Zampolli also ran a high-end escort service. 

Trump and Zampolli both vehemently deny they were ever involved in the escort business. Melania Trump moved to the United States from Slovenia in 1996 and married Donald Trump in 2005 at a wedding attended by the Republican presidential nominee’s rival, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The blogger, Webster Tarpley, has already issued a formal retraction for the report. The Daily Mail removed the story from its website and also issued a retraction.

Melania Trump’s lawyer in the case is Michael Harder, whose client Hulk Hogan recently won a multimillion-dollar suit against Gawker Media over its publication of a sex tape featuring Hogan.

“Defendants broadcast their lies to millions of people throughout the U.S. and the world—without any justification,” Harder said in a statement about the case. “Their many lies include, among others, that Mrs. Trump supposedly was an ‘escort’ in the 1990s before she met her husband.”

So far this year, Melania Trump has largely sought to avoid the public eye, choosing instead to let her husband campaign alone while she raises the couple’s young son. In July, she was the subject of harsh scrutiny after it was revealed that her speech at the Republican National Convention contained lines that were lifted whole cloth from first lady Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention speech. Since then, Mrs. Trump has remained almost entirely out of the presidential spotlight. 

Still, the timing of the Melania Trump lawsuit, a little over two months from Election Day, raises questions about what impact the litigation might have on Trump’s presidential campaign. As of Thursday evening, the Trump campaign had not issued a statement about the suit, and declined to comment. 

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