Melania Trump threatens People Magazine with lawsuit

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Melania Trump greets her husband Donald Trump after the town hall debate at Washington University on October 9, 2016 in St Louis, Missour Melania Trump greets her husband Donald Trump after the town hall debate at Washington University on October 9, 2016 in St Louis, Missour

Potential future first lady does not dispute allegations of sexual assault by Trump

Melania Trump threatened People Magazine and a former staff reporter with legal action over "false and completely fictionalized" statements in the writer's account of Donald Trump forcing himself on her during a 2005 interview.

The Republican presidential candidate's wife denied that she encountered or conversed with writer Natasha Stoynoff in New York, tweeting a letter from her lawyer demanding a "prominent retraction and apology" of certain statements in the article, and threatening that Melania would otherwise "consider her legal options."

"The true facts are these: Mrs Trump did not encounter Ms Stoynoff on the street, nor have any conversation with her," lawyer Charles Harder wrote. "The two are not friends and were never friends or even friendly."

His law firm requested that People and Stoynoff confirm within 24 hours that the demands were being met, saying "failure to do so will require Mrs Trump to consider her legal options."

The letter did not dispute Stoynoff's allegations that Donald Trump forcibly kissed her during an interview for an article to mark his wedding anniversary with his then-pregnant third wife Melania in 2005.

"I turned around, and within seconds he was pushing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat," Stoynoff wrote, an account the Republican White House hopeful vehemently denied.

"These vicious claims about me of inappropriate conduct with women are totally and absolutely false," he told a rally in West Palm Beach Thursday.

At least six women have accused the New York mogul of making unwanted physical advances in accounts reported by The New York Times, NBC, People Magazine and others, most of them after he asserted during Sunday's presidential debate with his democratic rival Hillary Clinton that he had never sexually assaulted a woman.

He said his lawyers were preparing a lawsuit against The New York Times -- which published the accounts of two women who accused him of groping and kissing them -- unless the paper retracts its article.

In her People story, Stoynoff said she asked to be taken off the "Trump beat," but later ran into the real estate magnate's wife in New York.

"That winter, I actually bumped into Melania on Fifth Avenue, in front of Trump Tower as she walked into the building, carrying baby Barron," Stoynoff said. "'Natasha, why don't we see you anymore?' (Melania Trump) asked, giving me a hug. I was quiet and smiled, telling her I'd missed her, and I squeezed little Barron's foot."

The potential first lady's lawyer Charles Harder also represented former wrestler Hulk Hogan in his successful lawsuit against Gawker Media, which resulted in a $140 million jury award against the entertainment website for releasing a sex tape featuring Hogan and a friend's wife.
Pure fiction

Trump himself meanwhile, launched a defiant attack on US media Thursday, calling published accusations by several women that he sexually assaulted them "pure fiction."

"These vicious claims about me of inappropriate conduct with women are totally and absolutely false. And the Clintons know it," Trump told a rally in West Palm Beach, accusing Democratic rival Hillary Clinton of being complicit.

"These claims are all fabricated. They're pure fiction. And they're outright lies. These events never, ever happened," he said.

Trump, a 70-year-old New York real estate mogul, described the accusations as "slander and libel ... thrown at me by the Clinton machine and New York Times and other media outlets as part of a concerted, coordinated and vicious attack."

Trump's campaign was already reeling after the release of an explosive 2005 video last week that captured the candidate bragging about how his fame allowed him to grope women with impunity.

On Wednesday the campaign was rattled anew, when The New York Times and other outlets published accounts of women who accused Trump of sexually assaulting them or kissing them without consent years ago.

Trump said there was "evidence to dispute these lies" and that he was preparing a lawsuit against the Times.

"Let's be clear on one thing: the corporate media in our country is no longer involved in journalism," he warned.

"They're a political special interest, no different than any lobbyist or other financial entity with a total political agenda," he added.

"And their agenda is to elect crooked Hillary Clinton at any cost, at any price, no matter how many lives they destroy."

Denouncing what he called an "absolute horror show of lies, deceptions (and) malicious attacks," Trump said he had expected the assaults on his character.

"I knew these false attacks would come. I knew this day would arrive," Trump said.

He also spoke in menacing terms about Clinton and her economic policies, charging that the former secretary of state met "in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of US sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers."

When the crowd began chanting "Lock her up!" Trump said, "Honestly, she should be locked up."

Trump at one point touched on the personal toll the accusations have taken.

"I will not lie to you. These false attacks are absolutely hurtful," he said.

"To be lied about, to be slandered, to be smeared so publicly, and before your family that you love, is very painful," he added.

(staff with AFP)

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