LJUBLJANA, Slovenia–In August 2016, just a year ago, Nataša Pirc Musar had the first of many talks over the phone with Melania Trump.
An American lawyer had gotten in touch with her about representing the first lady of the United States-to-be in her native Slovenia, where she’d grown up.
“Melania and I had a discussion,” said Pirc Musar. “I informed her about what was going on.” Some people were publishing scandalous stories about the former model; others were starting to try to use her fame for their merchandising–even naming a cake after her.
“She said to me that she did not want to sue anybody, that she was not doing that for money, she obviously does not need it,” Pirc Musar told The Daily Beast in an exclusive interview. “She just wanted me to set [limits] about what is allowed and what is not allowed.”
There was one particularly serious reason for Mrs. Trump to hire an attorney in Slovenia. A magazine there called Suzy, known for writing up the lives of celebrities, published an article that month saying that in the 1990s, Melania Knavs (sometimes Germanized as Knauss), as she was then known, worked for a modeling agency run by Paolo Zampolli in New York that “operated as an escort agency for wealthy clients.” A few weeks later, Pirc Musar and her client filed a lawsuit against Suzy magazine.
But by then the Daily Mail in the United Kingdom had published a story with similar allegations and quoted a source from Slovenia. “It was in the Daily Mail U.K. and Daily Mail USA—in 10 seconds it was all around the planet,” Musar said. “As a woman I understand her—I understand her as a human being—to say these nasty words about a lady!”
The Suzy magazine article by journalist Tomaz Mihelic sounded like bad news for Melania Trump. “The Daily Mail apologized that they had been wrong, they withdrew the article and wrote an apology, but here in Slovenia they [Suzy magazine] have never apologized,” Nataša Pirc Musar said. “And that was why Mrs. Trump said that ‘I have to go with this procedure to the end, because I would not tolerate that somebody was spreading such a lie all over the planet.’”
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