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Judge Orders Stormy Daniels to Pay Trump's Legal Fees

On Monday, a federal judge dismissed Stormy Daniels' defamation suit against President Donald Trump on the grounds of free speech.

by Marie Solis
Oct 16 2018, 2:57pm

A federal judge has dismissed Stormy Daniels' defamation suit against President Donald Trump and ordered her to pay the president back for roughly six months' worth of legal fees, which included costs for several attorneys and multiple court filings, according to the New York Times.

On Monday, Judge S. James Otero ruled that the April Trump tweet at the center of the suit— wherein the president calls a sketch of a man Daniels says threatened her in a parking lot after speaking out about her alleged affair with Trump a "total con job"—didn't constitute defamation. Rather, Otero wrote in the court's decision, the tweet had been expression of the free speech guaranteed by the Constitution.

“The court agrees with Mr. Trump’s argument because the tweet in question constitutes ‘rhetorical hyperbole’ normally associated with politics and public discourse in the United States,” Otero wrote. “The First Amendment protects this type of rhetorical statement.”

Michael Avenatti, Daniels' lawyer, filed an appeal to the Ninth Circuit immediately following the decision.

“We will appeal the dismissal of the defamation cause of action and are confident in a reversal,” Avenatti wrote in a now-deleted Monday night tweet. “There is something really rich in Trump relying on the First Amendment to justify defaming a woman.”

Avenatti did not immediately return Broadly's request for comment.

Avenatti first filed the defamation suit in April, claiming Trump had damaged Daniels' reputation and had exposed her to "contempt, ridicule, and shame" by suggesting she was lying about the still-unidentified man who allegedly threatened her.

In litigating the suit, Avenatti has come up against many detractors, who say Daniels, by definition, cannot be defamed due to her profession as an adult entertainer.

In a May interview on CNN, Paul Callan, a legal analyst on the news network, told host Anderson Cooper: "As a matter of principle, you're probably right: Someone who's made 500 pornographic films can be defamed, in theory. But you put 12 ordinary people on a jury and say to them, 'Award her money because someone called her a liar,' I think you'd have a hard time getting a substantial damage award."

Avenatti called Callan's comments "chauvinistic" and "demeaning to women."

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Daniels' defamation suit against Trump is just one part of a protracted legal battle she's launched against the president with Avenatti's counsel. Avenatti is still intent on formally nullifying the nondisclosure agreement Daniels signed in the days before the 2016 election, and nailing former Trump attorney Michael Cohen on the $130,000 he paid to Daniels for her silence.

"Be clear—even assuming Trump is owed [attorneys] fees from the defamation case (if he wins the appeal), they will be dwarfed by the fees he and Cohen will be required to pay in connection with the NDA case," Cohen tweeted Monday. "Not even close. Yet more 'winning' from Trump."