First Lady Melania Trump seems to have unintentionally tipped her hand on how she plans on using her tenure as First Lady — namely, to cash in.
The lawsuit filed in the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan against Mail Media, owner of the British tabloid the Daily Mail, made references to the “multimillion dollar business relationships” that Melania Trump lost due to an article which incorrectly claimed she had worked for an escort service. The lawsuit’s argument? That as First Lady she would be “one of the most photographed women in the world” and thus possessed a “unique, once in a lifetime opportunity” to “launch a broad-based commercial brand.”
According to Richard W. Painter, who served as White House ethics counsel under President George W. Bush, Trump’s lawsuit revealed a troubling attitude toward her public role.
“There has never been a first lady of the United States who insinuated that she intended to make a lot of money because of the ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity of being first lady,” Painter told The Washington Post.
Although Melania Trump’s legal team is not wrong in pointing out that the Daily Mail’s article was baseless, Mail Media claims that it wasn’t defamatory because it “discussed allegations that had been disseminated about the then-potential first lady, and the impact even false rumors could have on the presidential race.”
President Trump has been beset by allegations of conflicts of interest since before even taking office. These include his refusal to divest himself from his real estate empire, his potential violation of the emoluments clause by accepting money from foreign governments at businesses like the Trump International Hotel in Washington DC, and increasing the initiation fee at his Mar-a-Lago resort after becoming president.