Donald Trump’s wife, Melania, is officially suing Daily Mail and blogger Webster Tarpley for $150 million over allegations she was an escort in the 1990s, her lawyer says.
The Daily Mail suggested Melania Trump may have worked as a part-time escort in New York, and met her future husband earlier than previously reported.
The claims were “outright lying”, lawyer Charles Harder said.
Both the Daily Mail and Webster Tarpley have since retracted their articles.
Charles Harder said in a statement: “These defendants made several statements about Mrs. Trump that are 100% false and tremendously damaging to her personal and professional reputation.
“Defendants’ actions are so egregious, malicious and harmful to Mrs. Trump that her damages are estimated at $150 million.”
Charles Harder has filed the complaint before the Circuit Court for Montgomery County in Maryland.
Melania Trump, 46, was born in Slovenia and moved to the United States to work as a model in the 1990s. She married Donald Trump in 2005.
Webster Tarpley had written that Melania Trump feared her past becoming public.
The Daily Mail article quoted claims published in Slovenian magazine Suzy that the modeling agency Melania Trump was working for also functioned as an escort agency, court papers show.
The British newspaper also quoted Slovenian journalist Bojan Pozar, author of an unauthorized biography, who claimed Melania met Donald Trump in 1995, three years before their reported first meeting in 1998.
Melania Trump’s lawyers say she moved to the United States in 1996.
Webster Tarpley meanwhile alleged that Melania Trump was “reportedly obsessed by fear of salacious revelations by wealthy clients from her time as a high-end escort” and had suffered a “full-blown nervous breakdown”.
The Daily Mail‘s retraction, published late on September 1, insisted it had not suggested the escort claims were true but said that, even if false, they could affect the US presidential campaign.
In July, Melania Trump was embroiled in a row over plagiarism, after her speech at the Republican convention. Lines matched almost word for word those delivered by Michelle Obama at the Democrats’ convention in 2008.