First Lady Melania Trump has settled the lawsuit she filed last year against a Maryland blogger who published, and later deleted, a post about rumors that Trump had worked as an escort during her modeling career. The blogger, Webster G. Tarpley, had been named as a co-defendant with the British tabloid Daily Mail—which also reported the rumors—in a $150 million defamation suit Trump filed in Montgomery County.
A judge dismissed Trump’s claim against the Mail last week, citing questions about the jurisdiction and if Trump was naming the right corporate entity as the defendant. But the judge allowed the case against Tarpley, who lives in Gaithersburg, to proceed.
“The First Lady of the United States has settled her lawsuit against Webster Griffin Tarpley of Maryland,” reads a statement from Trump’s attorney, Charles Harder. “Mr. Tarpley has issued the attached retraction and apology to Mrs. Trump and her family, and agreed to pay her a substantial sum as a settlement.”
Harder also represented Hulk Hogan in the professional wrestler’s successful lawsuit against Gawker Media over a sex tape, which resulted in the company’s bankruptcy and sale.
In Tarpley’s statement, which was first reported by LawNewz.com, he says he had “no legitimate factual basis” for his original post, and that he is again retracting it and apologizing for it.
Last August 2, Tarpley published a post citing a tabloid magazine in Trump’s native Slovenia. Though with a small readership for his blog, which contains many conspiracy theories, the allegations about Trump’s past did not get much publicity until the Mail reported on them on August 19. Trump threatened legal action against both the Mail and Tarpley after the Mail‘s story, and even after both the newspaper and Tarpley pulled down their stories, she filed her lawsuit on September 1.
Tarpley’s full statement Tuesday reads:
I posted an article on August 2, 2016 about Melania Trump that was replete with false and defamatory statements about her. I had no legitimate factual basis to make these false statements and I fully retract them. I acknowledge that these false statements were very harmful and hurtful to Mrs. Trump and her family, and therefore I sincerely apologize to Mrs. Trump, her son, her husband and her parents for making these false statements.
Trump, who since her husband’s inauguration has taken an almost-zero-profile as First Lady, has also filed a new lawsuit in New York against Mail Media, which publishes the Daily Mail’s website.