Trump, the wife of the Republican presidential nominee, has placed The Daily Mail and other news organizations “on notice… for making false and defamatory statements about her supposedly having been an ‘escort’ in the 1990s,” Charles Harder, a lawyer for Trump, said in a statement.
In addition, Harder said that he had put Politico on notice for “false and defamatory statements” regarding its reporting on Trump’s immigration history. Politico confirmed that its reporters had been sent notices.
The notices come just three days after The Daily Mail, a UK publication, published a report citing a story in a Slovenian magazine that claimed a New York modeling agency that once represented Trump “also operated as an escort agency for wealthy clients.” That report was then picked up or referenced by other news outlets.
The outlets that have been put on notice by Melania Trump include The Daily Mail, The Week, Politico, Inquisitr, Tarpley, Before It’s News, Liberal America, LawNewz, Winning Democrats and Bipartisan Report, Harder told CNNMoney.
Harder, who also represented Hulk Hogan in his successful defamation suit against Gawker Media, confirmed that the notices should be interpreted as a threat to sue.
Until lawsuits are filed, however, the notices function as warnings to the accused parties to issue a correction or retraction.
“The ‘on notice’ practice is intended to give the [news outlets] a chance to retract the story and to remove it from their web site,” said Richard Epstein, a fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution and a professor at New York University and the University of Chicago.
On Monday, both Inquisitr and Bipartisan Report published retractions and full-throated apologies for citing the Daily Mail report. Donald Trump tweeted links to both retractions.
The Daily Mail, The Week and Politico have not yet commented on the notices.
Legal experts say The Daily Mail is more vulnerable to defamation charges because it is based in the United Kingdom, where libel laws tend to favor the plaintiff: In the U.S. the burden is on Trump to prove the statement false, while in the UK the burden would be on the Daily Mail to prove it was true, legal experts said.