Incoming first lady Melania Trump appeared in a Maryland courtroom Monday for a scheduling conference as legal proceedings geared up in her defamation suit against a Montgomery County blogger and a British tabloid.
“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,” said her attorney, Charles J. Harder.
He said Trump “looks forward to seeing the case to a successful conclusion.”
The 24-minute hearing covered standard scheduling matters for civil litigation. The hearing was held in a regular courtroom. Deputies from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, who are charged with security at the courthouse in downtown Rockville, were present, as were members of the Secret Service.
Trump arrived and departed without using a public entrance, which is not uncommon for high-profile plaintiffs or defendants.
“There were no incidents,” Montgomery Sheriff Darren Popkin said. “She was brought into the building. The court business that was supposed to occur happened. And she was escorted out.”
Montgomery Circuit Judge Sharon Burrell scheduled trial for Nov. 6 through 22, 2017.
Trump did not speak other than to politely respond to Burrell’s greeting.
On Sept. 1, in Montgomery Court, Trump sued blogger Webster Tarpley, 70, and the Daily Mail for defamation. Her attorneys cited published allegations, including those made in Tarpley’s blog post, according to court records.
In the lawsuit, Trump alleged Tarpley and the Daily Mail had published false assertions that, earlier in her life, she had worked as a high-end escort. Both publications retracted their stories.
Tarpley has said that he did not libel Melania Trump, and was passing on “unfounded rumors and innuendo” that had appeared on the Internet.
None of the claims or defenses were discussed at Monday’s hearing.
The blogger was not there. Attorneys for him and for the Daily Mail were present.
Plaintiffs often do not appear in court for scheduling matters because the sessions amount to a judge and attorneys working out dates for document deadlines and hearings.
At 8:59 a.m., court was called into session, according to an official recording of the hearing. All of the parties stood.
One of Trump’s attorneys addressed Burrell, the judge.
“Good morning, your honor, Donna McBride and Charles Harder on behalf of the plaintiff, Melania Trump, who is here with us this morning,” she said.
“Good morning,” Burrell said.
“Good morning,” the incoming first lady responded. She took her seat at a table with McBride and Harder. From there, the attorneys discussed deadlines and dates.
Trump has said that as first lady she would focus on the damage done by cyberbullying, particularly of children.
Perry Stein contributed to this report.