Federal Judge Dismisses Stormy Daniels’ Defamation Lawsuit Against Trump

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• October 15, 2018 10:10 pm


A federal judge on Monday threw out adult film actress Stormy Daniels' defamation lawsuit against President Donald Trump claiming he suggested she lied about being threatened to keep silent about their alleged affair.

U.S. District Judge S. James Otero, who hinted last month that he would dismiss the case, ruled that the First Amendment protects Trump's speech as "‘rhetorical hyperbole' normally associated with politics and public discourse in the United States," according to the Washington Post.

Otero ordered Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, to pay Trump's legal fees.

Charles Harder, one of Trump's attorneys, praised Otero's decision, saying that the amount of legal fees owed would be announced at a later date.

"No amount of spin or commentary by Stormy Daniels or her lawyer, Mr. Avenatti, can truthfully characterize today's ruling in any way other than total victory for President Trump and total defeat for Stormy Daniels," Harder said in an emailed statement to the Post.

Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti, a potential 2020 presidential candidate, shrugged off the ruling, calling it "limited" and vowing to "appeal the dismissal."

"Re Judge's limited ruling: Daniels' other claims against Trump and Cohen proceed unaffected. Trump's contrary claims are as deceptive as his claims about the inauguration attendance," Avenatti wrote in a tweet that he appears to have later deleted. "We will appeal the dismissal of the defamation cause of action and are confident in a reversal."

Avenatti later tweeted that he appealed Otero's ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Daniels sued Trump in April after he expressed skepticism about her claim that a man threatened her in 2011 to keep quiet about an alleged affair between her and Trump in 2006.

The defamation claim is separate from Daniels' other lawsuit against Trump concerning the alleged affair, the Associated Press reported.

Daniels was paid $130,000 as part of a nondisclosure agreement signed days before the 2016 election and is suing to dissolve that contract. Daniels has argued the agreement should be invalidated because Trump's then-personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, signed it, but Trump did not.

Lawyers for Trump and Cohen now say the deal that paid Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet was invalid, and they won't sue her for breaking it. Trump's attorney said the president never considered himself as a party to the agreement and doesn't dispute Daniels' assertion that the contract isn't valid.

While Trump and Cohen want the court to toss out the litigation as moot, Daniels' lawyer wants to keep the case alive, hoping to compel Trump to answer questions under oath about what he may have known about the deal.

Cohen pleaded guilty in August to campaign finance violations alleging he coordinated with Trump on a hush-money scheme to buy the silence of Daniels and a Playboy model who alleged affairs.