In September, Melania Trump filed a defamation lawsuit in Maryland against Mail Online, the Daily Mail’s website — and it was dismissed. She had also sued 70-year-old blogger Webster Griffin Tarpley, in a case which was settled on February 7; that same day, she refiled her suit against Mail Online, but in New York. When Trump initially refiled the $150 million Mail Online lawsuit, it included a passage which indicated she had been intending to use her position as first lady for financial gain:
[The] plaintiff had the unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, as an extremely famous and well-known person, as well as a former professional model, brand spokesperson, and successful businesswoman, to launch a broad-based commercial brand in multiple product categories, each of which could have garnered multimillion-dollar business relationships for a multi-year term during which plaintiff is one of the most photographed women in the world.
Per BuzzFeed, that section has since been removed from the lawsuit; an amended version of the suit without that language was filed on February 17. When it was first subject to criticism, Trump’s attorney, Charles Harder, told the Guardian that “the first lady has no intention of using her position for profit and will not do so. It is not a possibility. Any statements to the contrary are being misinterpreted.” (Harder famously represented Hulk Hogan in the successful trial against Gawker in which Hogan won $140 million, effectively leading to the media company’s bankruptcy.)
The removal of that language comes during a time of increased scrutiny of the president’s numerous conflicts of interest. For instance, the week before the lawsuit was changed, Donald Trump tweeted his displeasure at Nordstrom for dropping daughter Ivanka’s brand, while counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway urged people to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff” during a TV appearance.