It’s been a rough few days for politics (and the general public who just can’t take it anymore), but Melania Trump is sticking by her husband.
On Wednesday, People magazine writer Natasha Stoynoff told media outlets about her first encounter with GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump while she was interviewing him for a story on the couple’s first anniversary. Stoynoff says Trump attacked her during a meeting at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, claiming he pinned her against a wall and sexually assaulted her. Trump has already denounced the accusations but now his wife is weighing in, demanding an apology from the publication and a full retraction of the story. She is also threatening to sue.
According to Variety, Melania’s lawyer Charles Harder sent a letter to both Stoynoff and People’s editor-in-chief Jess Cagle Thursday saying that parts of the story were “false and completely fictionalized,” specifically a run-in with Melania a few months after the alleged assault took place.
Here’s the excerpt:
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?
According to Melania, this encounter never happened. “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.”
But despite what Harder said, facts say otherwise. Stoynoff says she had a “friendly, professional relationship” with the pair, covering all things Donald Trump for the magazine and and even attending the couple’s wedding.
Cagle has since responded to the threat of legal action with a statement saying that she and her colleagues stand by their decision to publish Stoynoff’s story.
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.
Variety reports that Harder’s letter never outwardly disputed the sexual assault claims, just certain facts in the story.