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Stormy Daniels' defamation case against Donald Trump dismissed by US judge

The claim is separate from another lawsuit that Daniels filed against Trump, which is continuing.

Adult film actress Stormy Daniels has had her defamation case against Donald Trump dismissed.
Adult film actress Stormy Daniels has had her defamation case against Donald Trump dismissed.
Image: Markus Schreiber/Assoicated Press

A FEDERAL JUDGE has dismissed Stormy Daniels’ defamation lawsuit against US president Donald Trump.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, sued Trump in April after he said a composite sketch of a man she said threatened her in 2011 to keep quiet about an alleged affair with the real estate mogul was a “con job”.

Trump tweeted that the man was “nonexistent” and claimed Daniels was playing the “fake news media for fools”.

He also retweeted a side-by-side photo comparing the sketch with a photo of Daniels’ husband.

However, in an order handed down yesterday, US District Judge S. James Otero said that Trump’s statement was protected speech under the First Amendment.

“If this court were to prevent Mr. Trump from engaging in this type of ‘rhetorical hyperbole’ against a political adversary, it would significantly hamper the office of the President,” the judge wrote.

“Any strongly worded response by a president to another politician or public figure could constitute an action for defamation. This would deprive this country of the ‘discourse’ common to the political process.”

Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, vowed to appeal the decision and said he was confident it would be reversed.

“There is something really rich in Trump relying on the First Amendment to justify defaming a woman,” Avenatti said.

But the president’s lawyer immediately hailed the ruling as a “total victory” for Trump.

“No amount of spin or commentary by Stormy Daniels or her lawyer, Mr Avenatti, can truthfully characterise today’s ruling in any way other than total victory for President Trump and total defeat for Stormy Daniels,” Charles Harder said in a statement.

The judge’s ruling also entitles Trump to collect legal fees from Daniels, but the amount that Daniels would need to pay will be determined later, Harder said.

The defamation claim is separate from another lawsuit that Daniels filed against Trump, which is continuing.

Daniels was paid $130,000 as part of a nondisclosure agreement that was signed days before the 2016 election, and is suing to dissolve that contract.

Daniels has argued that the agreement should be invalidated because Trump’s then-personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, signed it, but Trump did not.

Lawyers for Trump and Cohen now say the deal that saw Daniels paid $130,000 to keep quiet was invalid, and that they won’t sue her for breaking it.

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Associated Press

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