Melania Trump sues Daily Mail into submission

Melania Trump, wife of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump. ©  Mike Segar
It seems the Daily Mail forgot they were talking about the most litigious happy family around when they published allegations that Melania Trump was involved in sex work. The article was retracted after she filed a complaint in court.

It seems Melania has taken up the Trump pastime of suing publications that display the family in a disparaging light.

On Thursday, she lodged a complaint in a Maryland Circuit Court which claims that the Daily Mail’s story – titled 'Naked photoshoots and troubling questions about visas that won't go away: The VERY racy past of Donald Trump's Slovenian wife' – amounted to defamation.

In a lawsuit against both Mail Media and a journalist named Webster Griffin Tarpley, she hit each with one count of libel and one count of tortious interference with actual and/or prospective business advantage against all defendants. In non-legalese English, that means she alleges the stories jeopardized her business relationships “by sullying her good name,” according to the lawsuit.

Despite the fact that the lawsuit was filed in the US – where libel is notoriously difficult to prosecute – the Daily Mail rolled over hours later and issued a retraction about the August 20 piece. They pointed out, however, that their article had “stated that there was no support for the allegations, and it provided adamant denials from Mrs. Trump's spokesperson and from Mr. Zampolli.”

They also defended the article, explaining that it did not mean to imply that Melania had worked as a high-end escort or in a gentleman’s club. Rather, “the point of the article was that these allegations could impact the US presidential election even if they are untrue.”

The lawsuit took issue with these allegations, along with rumors that the Daily Mail echoed regarding when Melania entered the US. The lawsuit claims that Trump’s lawyer demanded the article be removed from the website on August 22, and it was taken down three days later. However, her problem was that “as of the filing of this complaint, there has been no retraction of the Daily Mail article or apology.”

It seems she got both on Thursday, but time will tell if she has taken on the time-honored Trump tradition of filing lawsuits and settling outside of court.

The lawsuit names Tarpley, founder and operator of Tarpley.net and a US historian who often dips his toes into conspiracy theories. The suit also specifically names an August 2 blog post titled 'Where Is Melania Trump?' which alleged that she was having a breakdown over plagiarism accusations following her speech at the Republican National Convention. It also mentions rumors of her past as a sex worker, citing “rapper 50 Cent [who] has also made critical observations about Ms. Trump’s past as a ‘porn star.’”

Again, Trump’s lawyers demanded a retraction and apology on August 21. Unlike the Daily Mail, Tarpley immediately acquiesced and removed the piece on August 22, along with a retraction and an official apology.

However, that wasn’t enough to keep him out of court, where the potential first lady is suing him for $75,000 in compensatory and punitive damages and an injunction to prevent “the publication of the defamatory statements…plus interests and costs and for such other relief.”

Although Tarpley had already apologized and retracted the article, a post on Tarpley.net implies he may be willing to fight.

“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,” Tarpley wrote.