Political blogger Webster Tarpley not only agreed to pay Melania Trump a “substantial sum,” but also issued an apology in which he admitted that his article alleging that the First Lady was a former “elite escort” had “no legitimate factual basis.”
“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.”
The 71-year-old writer went on to say that his story was “replete with false and defamatory statements.”
Trump sued the blogger who is based in Gaithersburg, Maryland and Mail Media Inc. for publishing a story in August which claimed that she used to work as an escort and that her initial meeting with Donald Trump was all staged.
Her legal team originally filed the lawsuit in Maryland but it was dismissed by a judge because the entity being sued, specifically Mail Media Inc., has its offices in New York.
Charles Harder, the attorney handling Trump’s defamation lawsuit against the publication that maligned her name, says that the First Lady does not intend to use her position for personal gain.
Speaking to the Guardian, the California attorney claims that Trump’s team re-filed the $150 million lawsuit against the company behind the Daily Mail not because the First Lady wants to make a profit. “The First Lady has no intention of using her position for profit and will not do so. It is not a possibility. Any statements to the contrary are being misinterpreted,” he said.
Harder argued that that an article published by the Mail Media Inc. claiming that Trump used to work as an escort affected not only her “multimillion-dollar business relationships,” but also her fitness to assume the duties of a First Lady. Furthermore, she reportedly underwent “significant humiliation in the community and emotional distress.”
As per the court papers, the defamatory article impacted Trump’s brand.
“[The] plaintiff had the unique, once-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.”
The attorney is known for representing Hulk Hogan last year when website Gawker posted a clip taken from the wrestler’s sex tape. Hogan won the case against the now defunct website and emerged with $140 million. Harder’s other clients in the entertainment industry include Fox News chief executive Roger Ailes and actress Amber Heard.
Last year, the Mail issued a retraction, but Harder told the Guardian that the only reason the website published an apology is to alleviate the damages its story caused.
“[The Mail’s apology] came several weeks after they had published their original article, knowing that it was going to be republished by lots of different publications … there were hundreds and hundreds of publications that ended up reporting about this horrible lie that the Daily Mail had perpetuated. The damage had been done.”
Over the past few months, Trump’s wife and son have been on the receiving end of uncalled-for remarks and allegations. Prior to Trump winning the presidential race, his wife vowed to focus on cyber bullying. She previously said in a campaign speech that if she becomes the First Lady, one of her aspirations would be to put an end to the trend of ridiculing others through the Internet.
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