Stormy Daniels, the adult film actress who alleged an affair with Donald Trump in 2006 and sued him after he called her a liar, might have to cover the president's legal fees after a federal judge tossed out her defamation suit against him Monday.
The lawsuit alleged Trump had defamed Daniels by attacking her claim that someone had threatened her over her plan to go public about the alleged affair in 2011. In a March interview with “60 Minutes," Daniels said she'd been approached in a parking lot by a man who threatened her and her infant daughter, a threat she believed was made on behalf of Trump or the Trump Organization. Trump responded on Twitter that Daniels' claim was “nonexistent” and a “total con job.”
Daniels, who is represented by attorney Michael Avenatti, alleged Trump’s tweet attacked her credibility and defamed her. But in a 14-page filing Monday, U.S. District Court Judge S. James Otero ruled that Trump’s tweet was merely “rhetorical hyperbole” and protected by the First Amendment. Otero dismissed the lawsuit and said Trump was entitled to legal fees — which could be a hefty sum, given that the case spanned six months and multiple lawyers.
“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,” said Charles Harder, a lawyer for Trump, in a statement to Politico. “The amount of the award for President Trump’s attorneys’ fees will be determined at a later date.”
Avenatti immediately filed a notice of appeal against Otero’s ruling on Monday, and said on Twitter that even if Trump were to win that appeal, the repaid legal fees would be “dwarfed” by fees resulting from a separate case involving Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen, who paid Daniels $130,000 in 2016 to keep quiet about the affair.
That case is ongoing and unaffected by the California ruling.
Cover image: BERLIN, GERMANY - OCTOBER 11: Stormy Daniels attends the Venus Award during the Venus Erotic Fair 2018 at Hotel Ellington on October 11, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. She was honored with a special award for her lifetime achievement in the erotic industry. (Photo by Matthias Nareyek/Getty Images)