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Melania Trump demands retraction from People: she and her husband's accuser were 'never friends or even friendly'

Donald Trump may not be planning to sue People over the magazine’s story accusing him of sexual assault, but his wife Melania apparently is.

At 7:15 p.m. on Thursday night, Melania tweeted a copy of a letter bearing the return address of her lawyer, Charles Harder, and addressed to People editorial director Jess Cagle and People writer Natasha Stoynoff, who wrote a first-person account about Donald Trump forcibly kissing her at Mar-a-Lago in 2005.

Harder — who represented Hulk Hogan in his suit against Gawker, which was funded by Trump supporter Peter Thiel, and has sent threatening letters on Melania’s behalf before — wrote that Stoynoff’s account contained “actionable” falsehoods (though it did not call the article defamatory). The specific passage Melania Trump disputes: the account of the writer bumping into Melania and having a brief conversation with her outside of Trump Tower.

“The true facts are these: Mrs. Trump did not encounter Ms. Stoynoff on the street, or have any conversation with her. The two are not friends and were never friends or even friendly,” Harder wrote.

Harder wrote that if the article is not corrected within 24 hours, Melania would “consider her legal options.”

Earlier on Thursday, Cagle said in a statement that People magazine stands behind Stoynoff’s reporting.

Read the full letter from Harder below:

Re: Melania Trump – Demand for Retraction and Apology

Dear Mr. Cagle and Ms Stoynoff:

This law firm is litigation counsel for Melania Trump. We write in connection with certain of the false statements int he story authored by Natasha Stoynoff and published by People Online on or about October 12, 2016 bearing the headline, “Physically Attacked by Donald Trump – a PEOPLE Writer’s Own Harrowing Story” (the “Story”). The Story is located at the URL address: http://people.com/politics/donald-trump-attacked-people-writer/

The following statements in the Story, among others, are false and completely fictionalized. We therefore demand that you immediately and permanently remove each of these statements from the Story, and print a prominent retraction and apology:

1. “That winter, I actually bumped into Melania on Fifth Avenue, in front of Trump Tower as she walked into the building, carrying baby Barron.”
2. “‘Natasha, why don’t we see you anymore?’ she asked, giving me a hug.”
3. “I was quiet and smiled, telling her I’d missed her, and I squeezed little Barron’s foot.”

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

At the time in question, Mrs. Trump would not even have recognized Ms. Stoynoff if they had encountered one another on the street.

Your publication of the false statements is actionable and gives rise to claims of damages. Please confirm in writing within twenty-four (24) hours of the transmission of this letter that the foregoing demands will be, and are being, fully complied with. Failure to do so will require Mrs. Trump to consider her legal options.

This letter is not intended as a full or complete statement of all relevant facts or applicable law, and nothing herein is intended as, nor should it be deemed to constitute, a waiver or relinquishment of any of my client’s rights, remedies, claims or causes of action, all of which are hereby expressly reserved.

Very truly yours,

CHARLES J. HARDER OF
HARDER MIRELL & ABRAMS LLP

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