Donald Trump’s wife Melania is suing British newspaper The Daily Mail for A$198 million after it aired allegations she worked as an escort in New York during the 1990s.
The article also raised questions about Trump’s immigration status when she first moved to America from Slovenia.
Trump is also suing US author Webster Tarpley for publishing the rumours on his blog.
In the suit, Trump claimed the allegations were “100 per cent false and tremendously damaging” to her reputation.
Melania Trump worked as a model before she met the Republican candidate at a New York Fashion Week party in 1998.
Recently, nude images – including a lesbian-themed photo shoot – surfaced from the days when Trump was known simply as Melania K.
Trump’s lawyer on a roll
Trump, whose husband Donald is notoriously litigious, will be backed by high-profile lawyer Charles Harder.
Harder is better-known as the man who won former wrestler Hulk Hogan $150 million in his suit against gossip news site, Gawker.
The lawsuit was funded by billionaire Peter Thiel, a vocal Donald Trump supporter who, according to Gawker‘s former editor, was seeking “petty revenge” with the suit.
Here are the kooky connections between Gawker, Donald Trump, The Daily Mail, Peter Thiel and Charles Harder pic.twitter.com/gNg54F5s9j
— Ryan Mac (@RMac18) August 22, 2016
Gawker later filed for bankruptcy and closed its doors.
Perhaps running scared, The Daily Mail printed a retraction on Friday, saying it had never intended to suggest the allegations against Melania Trump were true.
“The point of the article was that these allegations could impact the U.S. presidential election even if they are untrue,” read the retraction, adding that the paper “regrets any misrepresentation”.
The Daily Mail article – which has been removed – included allegations that Melania Trump had actually moved to the US three years before she has publicly stated – calling her working visa into question.
The allegations are particuarly inflammatory given Donald Trump’s promise to remove undocumented “criminal illegal aliens” should he win office in the US.
It also mentioned the rumour that Trump’s modelling agency essentially operated as an escort service for wealthy men.
Tarpley’s blog post, also now removed, was less subtle.
“It is widely known Melania was not a working model but rather a high-end escort,” he wrote in the August post.
Lawyer Harder told The Guardian the retractions would not make a difference to the case.
Latest muddle for Melania
With 68 days until the US presidential election, the lawsuit is only the latest in a string of high-profile embarrassments for Melania Trump.
In July, Trump’s personal website was taken offline after speculation she had lied about completing a degree in design and architecture before she pursued modelling.
Trump responded to the controversy by claiming the website had been taken down because it did not “accurately reflect [her] current business and professional interests”.
After her maiden speech at the Republican National Convention, Trump was dragged through the mud for allegedly copying a speech made by Michelle Obama at the Democratic National Convention years earlier.
Later, the New York Post unearthed not one, but two nude photo shoots starring Trump, plastering an image on its front page with the headline, “The Ogle Office”.