Melania Trump on reporter who got death threats after profile: 'She provoked them'

Melania trumpChip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesMelania Trump with her husband, Donald

A Russian-American reporter who was the target of death threats and anti-Semitic backlash after profiling Donald Trump’s wife, Melania, for GQ earlier this month “provoked them,” Melania reportedly said in an interview with the publication DuJour.

Julia Ioffe, known for her longform pieces that have appeared in Foreign Policy, Politico, and the New York Times, exposed some facts about Melania Trump’s past that the Slovenian model had not previously disclosed publicly.

Ioffe reported, for instance, that she has a 50-year-old half-brother, Denis Cigelnjak, whom her father has never acknowledged but who a blood test proved is his biological son.

“I have thick skin. It doesn’t bother me if they write about me because I know who I am. But what right does the reporter have to go and dig in court in Slovenia in 1960 about my parents? They’re private citizens,” Melania Trump told DuJour’s Mickey Rapkin. “If they go after me, it’s different. But to do that, it’s a little bit nasty, it’s a little bit mean.” 

When Rapkin asked Melania about the backlash Ioffe had gotten for uncovering her family history, Melania said: “I don’t control my fans, but I don’t agree with what they’re doing. I understand what you mean, but there are people out there who maybe went too far. She provoked them.”

(Melania initially denied that Denis existed, Ioffe reported, but admitted later that she has “known about this for years” and asked Ioffe to respect her father’s privacy after Ioffe sent her documents obtained from a Slovenian court proving she had a half brother.)

Shortly after publishing the GQ article, Ioffe was barraged with threatening phone calls, emails, and Twitter messages. She documented many of them on Twitter, noting that she’d only faced this kind of harassment before when working as a journalist in Russia:


Melania, for her part, called the story “disingenuous” immediately after was published. 

“Yet another example of the dishonest media and their disingenuous reporting,” she wrote in a Facebook post. She reiterated that her parents were private citizens who “should not be subject to Ms Ioffe’s unfair scrutiny.”

Ioffe defended the piece in an interview with The Guardian earlier this month. 

“This is not a heavily critical article. There is nothing in it that is untrue,” Ioffe said. “If this is how Trump supporters swing into action what happens when the press looks into corrupt dealings, for example, or is critical of his policies?”

She added: “We left Russia because we were fleeing antisemitism. It’s been a rude shock for everyone.”

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