Melania Trump Appears in Maryland Court for Defamation Case

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Courtesy Marc Nozell from Merrimack, N.H., via Wikimedia Commons

Just two days after her husband visited Baltimore, Melania Trump popped up today in Maryland for a defamation case against a Gaithersburg-based blogger who wrote without attribution that she was formerly a “high-end escort.”

According to a court filing shared online by Heavy.com reporter and editor Tom Clearly, Mrs. Trump is suing both British tabloid The Daily Mail and Maryland-based blogger Webster Griffin Tarpley in part for libel. As ABC7 reported, her suit against Tarpley says he wrote on on his blog Tarpley.net on Aug. 2, 2016, that she was: “Reportedly Obsessed by Fear of Salacious Revelations by Wealthy Clients from Her Time as a High-End Escort”; “Having an Apoplectic Fit After Plagiarism Incident at GOP Convention”; and “in a state of apoplectic tantrum, and is suffering from a full-blown nervous breakdown.”

To run with the term “salacious,” Tarpley is also accused of writing that Melania Trump was “described by the sources as a high-end escort” before she met her husband and “did not work with any regularity as a model, much less a supermodel.” He also cited Twitter feeds – generally not considered a reliable source by any means – that he said “discussed her as a professional ‘service provider,’ and wrote that she was “most afraid that some of her former clients will now come forward and implicate her as a luxury escort,” according to the lawsuit.

That’s a lot of very bad press to write about any woman, let alone someone who might end up becoming the first lady. According to Sinclair Broadcast Group, ABC7’s parent company, Trump asked Tarpley to issue an apology and retraction, which he complied with on Aug. 22, 2016. However, about 10 days later, the Montgomery County Circuit Court clerk received Melania Trump’s filing, which seeks at least $75,000 in punitive damages on two charges, one of which includes libel.

The case is apparently very important to her. According to the TV station, she volunteered to come to court in Rockville even though it wasn’t at all required.

Her attorneys said to the news station in part of a statement: “Mrs. Trump was not required to attend the court conference, but chose to do so, to meet the Judge, meet opposing counsel, and show her commitment to the case.”

“Mrs. Trump looks forward to seeing the case to a successful conclusion,” they added.

Whatever the outcome here, Tarpley may want to steer clear of any unattributed allegations against the president-elect and his wife in the future. After all, the president-elect is well-practiced as a party in litigation.

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets. He enjoys basketball, humid Mid-Atlantic summers and story tips.
Ethan McLeod
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