On Monday, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit from adult-film actress Stormy Daniels that claimed President Trump defamed her when he suggested she had lied about being threatened to keep quiet about their alleged relationship.
U.S. District Judge James Otero in Los Angeles ruled that Trump’s speech was protected by the First Amendment as the kind of “rhetorical hyperbole” normally associated with politics and public discourse in the United States.”
He ordered Daniels, whose given name is Stephanie Clifford, to pay Trump’s legal fees. Trump attorney Charles Harder cheered Otero’s decision saying “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”.
The ruling is a blow for Daniels and her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, who has raised a national profile from his legal battles against the president and is contemplating a presidential bid in 2020. Avenatti called the ruling “limited” on Twitter and said it did not affect Daniels’s primary case against Trump and his former attorney Michael Cohen, which seeks to invalidate her 2016 nondisclosure agreement.
Avenatti also tweeted that he had appealed Otero’s ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. The now-dismissed suit has received less attention than two other cases pending against Trump; Daniels’s lawsuit seeking to void the nondisclosure agreement and a separate defamation claim by former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos, who alleges that Trump sexually assaulted her in 2007 and argues that he defamed her when he suggested she was lying.