On Wednesday, the Daily Mail settled two lawsuits from Melania Trump regarding an August article the British paper published that claimed that a modeling agency she once worked for in the ’90s was actually an escort service. The paper officially retracted and apologized for the story, and agreed to pay damages, though the amount was not disclosed.
The story, entitled, “Racy photos, and troubling questions about his wife’s past that could derail Trump,” was run on the website and in the physical paper, and was retracted—without apology—less than two weeks after its publication date, according to NBC News.
The First Lady originally filed a $150 million lawsuit in a Maryland court last September, though after the court said it lacked jurisdiction, she filed a new case in New York in February, according to the New York Times. In that case, she and her legal counsel didn’t mention her or her husband’s new job, arguing instead that the article had damaged her brand (she is, according to her, “one of the most photographed women in the world”) and hurt her “unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity... to launch a broad-based commercial brand in multiple product categories.” She later amended the lawsuit to exclude that justification.
One person “familiar with the situation” told Reuters that the settlement was less than $3 million including legal costs and damages.
The Daily Mail posted its official apology (entitled, “Melania Trump - An Apology”) on its website. It reads:
The Mail Online website and the Daily Mail newspaper published an article on 20th August 2016 about Melania Trump which questioned the nature of her work as a professional model, and republished allegations that she provided services beyond simply modelling. The article included statements that Mrs. Trump denied the allegations and Paulo Zampolli, who ran the modelling agency, also denied the allegations, and the article also stated that there was no evidence to support the allegations. The article also claimed that Mr and Mrs Trump may have met three years before they actually met, and “staged” their actual meeting as a “ruse.”
We accept that these allegations about Mrs Trump are not true and we retract and withdraw them. We apologise to Mrs Trump for any distress that our publication caused her. To settle Mrs Trump’s two lawsuits against us, we have agreed to pay her damages and costs.
Trump also reportedly threatened to sue over a video made by James Hunter, a young autistic man; the video analyzed Barron Trump’s public behavior and suggested that he may be on the autism spectrum. After explaining that his only goal was to make people “stop bullying him over his ‘weird’ behavior and explain to them that it might actually be due to a condition,” Hunter apologized and removed it.
It’s hard to say what would have happened to these ephemeral bits of speculation should Trump have ignored them, but we certainly remember them now.