Judge dismisses Stormy Daniels's defamation case against Trump

Judge dismisses Stormy Daniels's defamation case against Trump

A federal judge on Monday dismissed Stormy Daniels’s defamation lawsuit against President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew EPA rule would expand Trump officials' powers to reject FOIA requests Democratic senator introduces bill to ban gun silencers Democrats: Ex-Commerce aide said Ross asked him to examine adding census citizenship question MORE.

U.S. District Judge S. James Otero in September suggested he would dismiss the case, saying that a tweet by President Trump at the center of the defamation lawsuit was "rhetorical hyperbole" rather than defamation.

Daniels, who filed the defamation lawsuit in April, centered that case on a tweet that Trump sent that month regarding a sketch of a man who allegedly threatened her. 

Daniels claimed in a “60 Minutes” interview that month that in 2011 a man approached her and her infant daughter in a parking lot and threatened her not to speak about the alleged affair.

“He leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, 'That’s a beautiful little girl,' " Daniels said. " 'It'd be a shame if something happened to her mom.' And then he was gone.”

She later released a composite sketch of the man she said threatened her.

Trump took to Twitter and called the sketch a “total con job,” sharing a photo of Daniels’s ex-husband side-by-side with the sketch that suggested the two were the same person.

Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, argued in the suit that the president defamed her by accusing her of fabricating the alleged crime, which would be illegal.

Otero, who was appointed by former President George W. Bush in 2003, wrote in his decision that Trump posted the tweet “as a rejoinder against an individual challenging him in the public arena.”

“This is the definition of projected rhetorical hyperbole,” Otero ruled.

The judge also ordered Daniels to pay Trump’s legal defense fees over the suit.

Daniels is separately suing Trump and his former personal attorney Michael Cohen over a 2016 nondisclosure agreement regarding her claims she had an affair with Trump.

Daniels also filed a defamation suit against Cohen.

That suit alleges that Cohen defamed Daniels by suggesting that she is lying about her alleged 2006 affair with Trump.

The suit specifically points to a statement made by Cohen earlier this year: "Just because something isn't true doesn't mean that it can't cause you harm or damage," he said.

Daniels’s attorney, Michael Avenatti, said Monday night that his client’s other cases against Trump and Cohen will still proceed “unaffected.”

“Trump’s contrary claims are as deceptive as his claims about the inauguration attendance,” Avenatti tweeted. “We will appeal the dismissal of the defamation cause of action and are confident in a reversal.”

But Trump’s lawyer Charles Harder called the ruling a "total defeat" for Daniels.

“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,” Harder said in a statement.

Updated at 8:21 p.m.