Melania Trump Demands an Apology from the People Writer Accusing Her Husband of Sexual Assault
In a harrowing story posted to People on Wednesday, writer Natasha Stoynoff recounted the time Donald Trump allegedly attacked her at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida while she was there interviewing him and his wife Melania Trump for their first anniversary. Now, the Republican nominee’s wife is threatening legal action against the publication, unless they immediately issue an apology and retract the story.
According to Variety, Melania’s lawyer Charles Harder sent a letter to both Stoynoff and People’s editor-in-chief Jess Cagle on Thursday, claiming that parts of her story were “false and completely fictionalized.” In particular, Harder took issue with the fact that Stoynoff claimed that she’d run into Melania months after the alleged assault took place, and that Melania had given her a hug and asked why they hadn’t seen each other in so long:
That winter, I actually bumped into Melania on Fifth Avenue, in front of Trump Tower as she walked into the building, carrying baby Barron.
“Natasha, why don’t we see you anymore?” she asked, giving me a hug.
I was quiet and smiled, telling her I’d missed her, and I squeezed little Barron’s foot. I couldn’t discern what she knew. Did she really not guess why I hadn’t been around?
“The true facts are there: Mrs. Trump did not encounter Ms. Stoynoff on the street, nor have any conversation with her,” Harder wrote. “The two are not friends or even friendly. At the time in question, Mrs. Trump would not have even recognized Ms. Stoynoff if they had encountered one another on the street.”
Contrary to Harder’s depiction of Stoynoff’s relationship with the Trumps, in her story, she claimed that she had a “friendly, professional relationship” with the pair. Around the time of the alleged assault, she had been in charge of People’s “Trump beat” for years, and was responsible for “all things Donald.” She even attended the Trumps’ wedding.
In response to Harder’s threat of legal action, Cagle published a statement to People on Thursday, stating that she had no intentions of taking the piece down and that she and the rest of the People’s staff stand by their decision to publish it.
“We are grateful to Natasha Stoynoff for telling her story. Ms. Stoynoff is a remarkable, ethical, honest and patriotic woman, and she has shared her story of being physically attacked by Donald Trump in 2005 because she felt it was her duty to make the public aware.
To assign any other motive is a disgusting, pathetic attempt to victimize her again. We stand steadfastly by her, and are proud to publish her clear, credible account of what happened.
It is heartbreaking that her fear of retaliation by Trump kept her from reporting the incident when it happened. She has carried this secret for more than a decade, and we hope that by coming forward now she is relieved of that burden.”
Harder’s letter reportedly did not dispute Stoynoff’s claims of being assaulted by Trump, but the Republican nominee has since denied that the attack took place during a rally in Florida.