LOS ANGELES (CN) – A federal judge on Monday tossed adult film star Stormy Daniels’ defamation lawsuit against President Donald Trump, and also awarded the president attorney’s fees.
Daniels, real name Stephanie Clifford, said she was threatened by a man in a Las Vegas parking lot in 2011 to keep quiet about an affair she says she had with Trump, which she planned to tell all about in an InTouch magazine story.
In April 2018, Daniels and Avenatti released an artist’s sketch of the man who supposedly threatened Daniels. A Twitter user posted the sketch next to an image of Daniels’ estranged husband and noted a resemblance between the two.
Trump replied to that image on Twitter and wrote, “A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!”
Daniels sued, claiming Trump’s tweet painted her as fabricating a crime and the existence of an assailant – a violation of the law in several states, according to her lawsuit.
But on Monday, U.S. District Judge James Otero found Daniels failed to make even a basic case of defamation under Texas law, her choice of law given she lives there.
Otero also agreed with Trump’s argument calling the tweet in question “‘rhetorical hyperbole’ normally associated with politics and public discourse in the United States,” noting Daniels is Trump’s political adversary of sorts.
“The First Amendment protects this type of rhetorical statement,” Otero wrote in a 14-page order.
On Twitter, Avenatti said Daniels’ other claims against Trump and his former attorney Michael Cohen “proceed unaffected.”
Avenatti also said he plans to appeal the dismissal of the defamation action and is “confident in a reversal.”
In an email, he said: "“There is something really rich in Trump relying on the First Amendment to justify defaming a woman.”
Trump’s attorney Charles Harder called the ruling a victory and a “total defeat” for Daniels.
Harder said “no amount of spin or commentary” by Daniels or Avenatti could affect how Otero’s ruling can be characterized.
Otero also awarded attorney fees to Trump, finding Texas anti-SLAPP law is "unambiguous" in allowing someone who successfully moves to strike under the statute reasonable fees. He gave Trump's team two weeks to file a motion for attorney fees.
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