The media scrutiny of Donald Trump has intensified since the convention and that scrutiny has spilled over, dousing the rest of the Trump family of late. Melania Trump, for example, has had her immigration status when she first came to the U.S. questioned by Politico and has beefed up her legal might in response, initiating legal action against the U.K.’s Daily Mail tabloid newspaper for recently publishing a story claiming she worked as an escort nearly two decades ago. Melania has accused the British tabloid along with Politico, among others, of “making false and defamatory statements.” This is surely not the first time those words have been uttered by a Trump employee with a law degree, but perhaps most significantly, Melania has hired Los Angeles–based attorney Charles Harder, the lawyer at the center of Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel’s successful crusade to take down Gawker, to represent her.
Here’s Harder’s statement about the legal action:
Mrs. Trump has placed several news organizations on notice of her legal claims against them, including Daily Mail among others, for making false and defamatory statements about her supposedly having been an ‘escort’ in the 1990s. All such statements are 100% false, highly damaging to her reputation, and personally hurtful. She understands that news media have certain leeway in a presidential campaign, but outright lying about her in this way exceeds all bounds of appropriate news reporting and human decency.”
Donald Trump threatens to sue most people out of sheer muscle memory, so it’s unclear if the latest move by Melania Trump amounts to much more than bluster borne out of a realist Trumpian worldview in dealing with the media. Trump already appeared to be at DEFCON 1 in his dealings with the press, but the hiring of Harder, who shopped for plaintiffs, including Hulk Hogan, to sue Gawker for millions in order to exact retribution for Peter Thiel, will likely be interpreted as an unwelcome escalation by media outlets that continue to struggle for access to the Republican candidate for president of the United States.