White House

Blogger forced to pay 'substantial sum' to Melania Trump in defamation lawsuit

Feb. 4, 2017: President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive for the 60th annual Red Cross Gala at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla.

Feb. 4, 2017: President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive for the 60th annual Red Cross Gala at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla.  (AP)

A Maryland blogger has been forced to pay a “substantial sum” to Melania Trump as part of a settlement for a defamation lawsuit over an article containing unsubstantiated claims that the first lady once worked as an escort, her lawyers announced Tuesday.

“I posted an article on August 2, 2016 about Melania Trump that was replete with false and defamatory statements about her,” Webster Tarpley, the 71-year-old blogger, said in a statement by Trump’s attorneys, according to the Washington Post.

Trump’s legal team declined to provide the settlement amount. Tarpley, of Gaithersburg, didn’t respond to requests from the Washington Post for comment, but his lawyer confirmed a settlement had been reached.

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“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’s lawyers -- in comments attributed to Tarpley -- wrote in their statement.

Trump on Monday also re-filed a libel lawsuit against the corporation that publishes the Daily Mail's website, this time in New York, for reporting on the escort rumors.

Trump had previously filed the lawsuit against Mail Media Inc. in Maryland, but a judge earlier this month ruled the case shouldn't be filed in Maryland and dismissed it. The lawsuit now filed in New York, where the corporation has offices, seeks compensatory and punitive damages of at least $150 million.

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In the new filing Monday, the first lady's attorneys argue the report damaged her ability to profit off her high profile.

Melania Trump, the filing states, "had the unique, one-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."

Those product categories, it goes on to say, could have included apparel, accessories, jewelry, cosmetics, hair care and fragrance, among others.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.