Trump Tweet Target Cannot Sue for Defamation

(CN) – A veteran Republican political commentator cannot sue President-elect Donald Trump for calling her a “dummy” on Twitter and portraying her as a spurned job seeker who criticized him only after she wasn’t hired as his communications director, a New York judge ruled.

On Tuesday, New York Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jaffe dismissed Cheri Jacobus’ claims that Trump and his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski knowingly impugned her reputation in retaliation for her criticisms of Trump’s performance as a candidate.

Jacobus said the president-elect and Lewandowski took umbrage to her comment on CNN that Trump “comes off like a third grader faking his way through an oral report on current affairs.”

According to court records, in the wake of that statement, Lewandowski went on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program and dismissed Jacobus as someone who visited the Trump campaign office several times to try to get a job with the campaign.

When she wasn’t hired, Lewandowski allegedly said, “Clearly she went off and was upset by that.”

Trump then launched a broadside of his own, Tuesday’s ruling states, tweeting “@cherijacobus begged us for a job. We said no and she went hostile. A real dummy!”

Jacobus had her lawyer send a cease-and-desist letter to Trump and Lewandowski, but the president-elect was unrepentant, tweeting, “Really dumb @CheriJacobus. Begged my people for a job. Turned her down twice and she went hostile. Major loser, zero credibility!”

Many of Trump’s followers responded with hostile tweets demeaning Jacobus and insulting her professional qualifications. One allegedly tweeted an image of her in a gas chamber with Trump standing by to push a button marked “gas.”

However, Justice Jaffe found the comments that Jacobus “begged” for a job and “went hostile” merely hyberbolic rhetoric and not actually defamatory.

In her complaint, Jacobus confirms she did indeed meet with Lewandowski and another Trump staffer, Jim Dornan, at Trump Tower last year to discuss a job as campaign communications director, but decided against pursuing the position due to Lewandowski’s “boorish behavior.”

Jaffe noted in her 20-page ruling that Trump regularly insults his critics on Twitter, especially members of the media.

“The context of a national presidential primary and a candidate’s strategic and almost exclusive use of Twitter to advance his views arguably distinguish this case from those where heated rhetoric was held to constitute communications that cannot be taken seriously,” Jaffe said.

However, Trump’s “intemperate tweets” cannot reasonably be read as damaging to Jacobus’ reputation as a partisan political commentator, Jaffe concluded.

“Defendants’ statements that they rejected plaintiff for a campaign position do not suggest that she improperly performed her professional duties, engaged in unprofessional conduct, or otherwise tended to injure her in her profession, that of a political commentator during a particular raucous Republican presidential primary,” the judge wrote.

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