Melania Trump threatens to sue People magazine over 'fictionalized' story
Melania Trump says portions of a People magazine story – a first-person account by Natasha Stoynoff – alleging a sexual assault by her husband – are false.
(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Melania Trump says portions of a People Magazine story alleging a sexual assault by her husband are "false and completely fictionalized." She is demanding a retraction and apology and threatening to sue the publication.
The story was a first-person account by Natasha Stoynoff of an interview she did with Donald and Melania Trump at their home in Mar-a-Lago. Stoynoff says that when Melania Trump left the room, her husband pushed Stoynoff against a wall and sexually assaulted her.
Now, I’m a tall, strapping girl who grew up wrestling two giant brothers. I even once sparred with Mike Tyson. It takes a lot to push me. But Trump is much bigger — a looming figure — and he was fast, taking me by surprise and throwing me off balance. I was stunned. And I was grateful when Trump’s longtime butler burst into the room a minute later, as I tried to unpin myself...
“You know we’re going to have an affair, don’t you?” he declared, in the same confident tone he uses when he says he’s going to make America great again. “Have you ever been to Peter Luger’s for steaks? I’ll take you. We’re going to have an affair, I’m telling you.”
The Republican presidential candidate says the account is untrue.
Lawyers for Mrs. Trump wrote that the article's description of a later encounter in New York between Melania Trump and Stoynoff after the interview is "false and completely fictionalized."
Meanwhile, The New York Times on Thursday rejected Donald Trump's claim the newspaper had libeled the Republican presidential nominee, saying its story about two women who said he sexually assaulted them was "newsworthy information about a subject of deep public concern."
In a letter, Times attorney David McCraw said Trump "has bragged about his non-consensual sexual touching of women" and that multiple women had already come forward. "Nothing in our article has had the slightest effect on the reputation that Mr. Trump, through his own words and actions, has already created for himself," he wrote.
The Times reported Wednesday that two women told the paper of his unwanted sexual advances. One, Jessica Leeds, said Trump groped her on an airplane more than three decades ago. The other, Rachel Crooks, said Trump kissed her without invitation in 2006 when she was a 22-year-old receptionist for a real estate firm located at Trump Tower.
Trump vehemently denied the allegations, and demanded through his attorney that the story be retracted. At a rally in Ohio, Trump said the media had "slandered and lied about me with false accusations."
The Times refused to retract the story, saying its reporters worked diligently to confirm the women's accounts. "It would have been a disservice not just to our readers but to democracy itself to silence their voices," McCraw's letter said.
McCraw said that if Trump decides to go ahead with a lawsuit, then "we welcome the opportunity to have a court set him straight."
Trump has denied the accusations of sexual misconduct and said the women are liars. He has apologized for his comments on the 2005 video, which was disclosed this month, but also dismissed them as "locker-room talk" and a distraction from the campaign.
A look at the women and their allegations:
—Summer Zervos, 41, says Trump made aggressive, unwanted sexual advances in a Beverly Hills, California, hotel room in 2007. A former contestant on "The Apprentice," Zervos says she contacted Trump to ask for a job. He later invited her to dinner, and when she met him at his hotel, Zervos said, Trump almost immediately began kissing her and placed his hand on her breasts.
—Kristin Anderson, 46, told The Washington Post that she was sitting on a couch with friends at a New York nightclub in the early 1990s when someone reached up her skirt. Anderson, then in her early 20s, said she pushed the hand away, turned around and recognized Trump as the man who had groped her.
—Jessica Leeds, 74, told The New York Times that Trump groped her on an airplane more than three decades ago. Leeds says the two were seated next to each other when Trump lifted the armrest separating them and began to touch her, grabbing her breasts and trying to put his hand up her skirt. Leeds called the incident an "assault."
—Rachel Crooks says Trump kissed her without invitation in 2006 when she was a 22-year-old receptionist for a real estate firm located at Trump Tower. Crooks told the Times she was meeting Trump for the first time when he took her hand to shake it and would not let go. He began kissing her cheeks and then kissed her on the mouth, she told the paper.
—Mindy McGillivray, 36, of Palm Springs, Florida, says Trump groped her after she attended a Ray Charles concert at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in 2003. McGillivray told The Palm Beach Post she was standing with a group of people after the show and Trump came up behind her and grabbed her buttocks.
—Natasha Stoynoff, a reporter for People magazine, says Trump forced himself on her in 2005, when she was interviewing him for a feature on the one-year anniversary of his marriage to Melania Trump. Stoynoff wrote in an article published on the magazine's website that Trump was giving her a tour of his Mar-a-Lago mansion when he said he wanted to show her a special room. He shut the door "and within seconds, he was pushing me against the wall, and forcing his tongue down my throat."
—Temple Taggart, a former Miss Utah, says Trump kissed her on the mouth more than once when she was a 21-year-old contestant in his Miss USA beauty pageant. Taggart initially told her story to the Times in May. She said she was struck by how Trump's comments from the 2005 video mirrored her experience.
—Jill Harth, a former business associate, told the Times that Trump put his hands under her skirt during a business dinner in 1992 and, on another occasion, tried to force himself on her. Harth sued Trump accusing him of sexual harassment in 1997. She dropped the lawsuit Trump after he settled a separate breach of contract suit.
—More than 20 former crew members, editors and contestants on Trump's "Apprentice" reality show described a pattern of crass behavior and demeaning comments on the set. Trump repeatedly addressed women with sexist language, rated female contestants by the size of their breasts and talked about which ones he'd like to have sex with, the people told The Associated Press.