Melania Trump’s lawyers alleged in a lawsuit filed Monday that the First Lady’s “unique once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to profit from her White House role was damaged by a Daily Mail article claiming she once worked as an escort.
The suit, filed in New York State Supreme Court against the tabloid’s owner, Mail Media, seeks compensatory and punitive damages of at least $150 million.
According to the suit, Trump planned to leverage her years as “one of the most photographed women in the world” to establish new “licensing, branding and endorsement” deals worth millions of dollars. She intended to “launch a broad-based commercial brand” selling “apparel accessories, shoes, jewelry, cosmetics, hair care, skin care and fragrance,” the suit states.
The lawsuit alleges that Trump’s reputation was undermined at a particularly opportune moment by the Mail article, which published unsubstantiated allegations from a Slovenian magazine that the First Lady had worked for an escort service. That article was eventually retracted.
A judge in Maryland dismissed a similar suit earlier this month, claiming the state court didn’t have the jurisdiction to pursue a case against the U.K.-based Mail Media.
The First Lady’s lawyer, Charles Harder, announced on Tuesday that she had agreed to settle for a “substantial sum” with a Maryland blogger who also published a post about the escort allegations. In a statement provided to TPM by Harder’s office, blogger Webster Tarpley said his story was “replete with false and defamatory statements” that he “fully” retracted.
Harder has been retained by many high-profile clients, includuing disgraced Fox News CEO Roger Ailes. Last year, Trump ally Peter Thiel paid Harder to represent former pro wrestler Hulk Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, in an invasion-of-privacy suit against Gawker Media. The suit resulted in the media company’s bankruptcy.
Read the lawsuit below: