Attorneys for Melania Trump issued a statement Tuesday saying the first lady has settled the defamation case against 71-year-old Gaithersburg blogger Webster Tarpley, who published claims she had worked as a “high-end escort” in New York City.
The statement did not provide details about the settlement, but the first lady’s attorneys said Tarpley agreed to pay her a “substantial sum” as part of the settlement.
Tarpley also issued an apology that stated, “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.”
John Owen, Tarpley’s attorney, confirmed in an email sent to Bethesda Beat Tuesday that the press release from Trump’s attorneys is accurate. He did not immediately respond to a question about how much Tarpley agreed to pay Trump.
The settlement comes on the heels of Monday’s filing by the first lady of a $150 million lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan against the American affiliate of the British tabloid the Daily Mail. In that lawsuit, attorneys for Trump wrote the tabloid’s allegations that she worked for an escort service cost her “multimillion dollar business relationships” when she would be “one of the most photographed women in the world.”
Trump initially had filed suit against both Tarpley and the Daily Mail in Montgomery County Circuit Court. The New York lawsuit comes less than a week after circuit court Judge Sharon Burrell dismissed Trump’s lawsuit against the tabloid on jurisdictional grounds.
Last month, however, Burrell allowed Trump’s claims against Tarpley to proceed while making a strong statement about Tarpley’s allegations about Trump.
In a hearing Jan. 27, Burrell said, “There’s no more defamatory statement than to call a woman a prostitute.”
Tarpley’s attorneys had attempted to make the argument during the hearing that his post was protected by the First Amendment and that he was reporting about rumors spreading online about Trump’s past.
Both the Daily Mail and Tarpley retracted their posts in late August after they were contacted by Trump’s attorneys.
Tarpley's blog mostly contains musing on daily political happenings and reflections on history.