Melania Trump has filed a $150 million lawsuit against the publishers of the Daily Mail website for defamation.
The suit concerns a story that the Mail Online ran in August, which suggested that she'd worked as an "elite escort" in the sex business. But there's another theory - that this is an attack on the press in general, and a ruse to destroy the Mail specifically.
- Melania originally filed a defamation suit against Mail Media Inc. in Maryland last September
- The Mail Online retracted the story as soon as she began legal proceedings, saying the claims were "unsubstantiated"
- The lawsuit asserts that the MailOnline were either aware they were false, or that they "harboured serious doubts about the truth of the claims"
- The case was recently dismissed for lack of jurisdiction
- She refiled the suit in Manhattan where the company has offices
- In a similar suit against a Maryland blogger who published the same claims, Judge Sharon Burrell stated:
The court believes most people, when they hear the words 'high-end escort' that describes a prostitute. There could be no more defamatory statement than to call a woman a prostitute.
The lawsuit asserts that the allegations have caused her "brand" to lose "significant value".
Plaintiff had the unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity [...] to launch a broad-based commercial brand in multiple product categories, each of which could have garnered multi-million dollar business relationships for a multi-year term during which Plaintiff is one of the most photographed women in the world.
These product categories would have included, among other things, apparel, accessories, shoes, jewellery, cosmetics, hair care, skin care and fragrance.“
Her spokespeople immediately issued statements saying that Mrs Trump "has no intention" of using her public position for personal gain".
But is there another motive?
Slate has put forward the theory that Melania's lawyer, Charles Harder, could have an ulterior motive.
Harder, who rose to fame representing Hulk Hogan in a similar suit against media company Gawker, asked for (and was awarded) $140 million.
Slate suggests that a motive here could be "to bankrupt and destroy the Daily Mail"
And it could even be a:
trial balloon for future attacks on more established and respected outlets like the New York Times.
This is another example of ongoing fears about conflicts of interests related to the Trumps in the White House.