Melania Trump has won a "substantial" amount of money in a settlement with Maryland blogger who wrote about claims that she had once worked as a prostitute.
"The First Lady of the United States has settled her lawsuit against Webster Griffin Tarpley of Maryland," said Matthew Blackett, one of Trump's attorneys.
"Mr. Tarpley has issued the attached retraction and apology to Mrs. Trump and her family, and agreed to pay her a substantial sum as a settlement," Blackett said in a statement.
Tarpley, a 71-year-old from Maryland has also written a full apology.
"I posted an article on August 2, 2016 about Melania Trump that was replete with false and defamatory statements about her. I had no legitimate factual basis to make these false statements and I fully retract them," it reads.
Tarpley did not return messages about the settlement, but his lawyer confirmed the agreement.
The mea culpa continues, "I acknowledge that these false statements were very harmful and hurtful to Mrs. Trump and her family, and therefore I sincerely apologise to Mrs. Trump, her son, her husband and her parents for making these false statements."
The deal was reached a day after Trump sued the Mail Online in New York Supreme Court over a similar claims that she once worked as a high-priced call girl in the 1990s before marrying her husband.
The New York suit was the third against the Mail Online. Trump had originally listed the publication as a co-defendant in the Maryland suit, but the judge removed the Mail for jurisdictional reasons. There's also a pending case in the UK over an article in the publication's print version.
Trump's lawyers made a new, eyebrow-raising claim in the New York suit - that the prostitution rumours ruined her "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" to cash in on the presidency.
The suit says the First Lady "had the unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, as an extremely famous and well-known person ... to launch a broadbased commercial brand in multiple product categories, each of which could have garnered multi-million dollar business relationships for a multi-year term during which plaintiff is one of the most photographed women in the world."
"These product categories would have included, among other things, apparel, accessories, shoes, jewellery, cosmetics, hair care, skin care and fragrance," according to the filing.
It places the value of the lost business opportunities at $204.5 million.
A spokeswoman for Trump seemed to walk back the claims made in court papers.
"The First Lady has no intention of using her position for profit and will not do so. Any statements to the contrary are being misinterpreted," the spokeswoman said.
Richard Painter, who advised former President George W. Bush on ethics, said the language in the lawsuit shows Melania Trump is engaging "in an unprecedented, clear breach of rules about using her government position for private gain. This is a very serious situation where she says she intends to make a lot of money. That ought to be repudiated by the White House or investigated by Congress."
Painter is part of a group of attorneys suing the president for an alleged violation of a constitutional clause that prohibits presidents from receiving foreign gifts or payments.
In response to questions from The Associated Press, Charles Harder, Melania Trump's lawyer, said "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."
Harder did not respond to a follow-up question about what the lawsuit means by "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity." To Painter and others, there is no ambiguity.
"She's not talking about the future," Painter said. "She's talking about earning money now." Scott Amey, general counsel of the Washington watchdog Project on Government Oversight, said it is "another example of the first family blurring the line between public service and private business interests."
Trump previously filed the lawsuit against Mail Media Inc. in Maryland, but a judge earlier this month ruled the case was filed in the wrong court. The lawsuit is now filed in New York, where the corporation has offices.
Melania Trump's previous work in marketing has drawn scrutiny before. On Inauguration Day, the official White House biography for Melania Trump originally included an explicit reference to her jewellery collection, which it noted was sold on the home-shopping channel QVC.
By the next day, that bio had been edited and simplified to say that she had "launched her own jewellery collection."
A spokeswoman for the first lady said the website was updated out of "an abundance of caution" and that the jewellery line is no longer available in any case.
President Donald Trump continues to financially benefit from his global business empire, breaking from past practice. Previous presidents and their families have divested from business interests and placed their holdings in a blind trust, although there is no legal requirement to do so.
Trump handed daily management of the real estate, property management and licensing to his adult sons and a longtime Trump Organization employee.
- With AP