Melania Trump, the wife of President-elect Donald Trump, was in Rockville Monday morning to attend a scheduling hearing in Montgomery County Circuit Court in a defamation lawsuit she filed against a British tabloid and a Clarksburg blogger.
Courthouse witnesses told Bethesda Beat the incoming first lady, who lives in New York City, appeared with security in tow at the courthouse for the 9 a.m. hearing.
Charles J. Harder, Trump’s lawyer, issued a statement Monday morning saying 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,” the statement said.
Trump sued the Clarksburg blogger Webster Tarpley and The Daily Mail in September after Tarpley and the tabloid posted separate articles on their websites that both alleged Trump worked or may have worked as a high-price escort when she moved to New York from Slovenia in the 1990s.
Tarpley and the tabloid both issued retractions in August, just before the lawsuit was filed in Montgomery County Circuit Court. Trump is seeking $150 million in damages and Harder has called the previously published claims 100 percent false “and tremendously damaging to her personal and professional reputation.”
A Baltimore attorney told The Guardian newspaper that Trump’s legal team may have filed the lawsuit against the tabloid and Tarpley in Montgomery County—where Tarpley lives—to avoid having it moved to federal court, where Trump’s husband, President-Elect Donald Trump, has “not been having the best luck” recently.
The attorney, Steve Klepper, told the newspaper, however, that “Montgomery County has possibly the highest-percentage college education jury pool in the whole country and I cannot see how the jury pool would be good for [Melania Trump].”
Voters here also supported Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by more than a 3-to-1 margin.