Donald Trump has defeated the defamation suit brought against him by Stormy Daniels.
The adult film actress, whose birth name is Stephanie Clifford, sued him in April for suggesting on Twitter that she lied about a man allegedly threatening her to keep her quiet about a sexual encounter she claims to have had with the president.
At the time, Trump tweeted about Daniels’ claims, calling the allegation “a total con job” and “playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!”
On Monday, Federal District Judge S. James Otero in Los Angeles dismissed Daniels’ lawsuit against Trump, calling his tweet “rhetorical hyperbole normally associated with politics and public discourse in the United States,” according to the ruling obtained by CNN.
“Mr. Trump’s tweet is a non-actionable opinion that cannot be the subject of a defamation claim,” the ruling states, later explaining, “The First Amendment protects this type of rhetorical statement.” (Judge Otero previously indicated in September during arguments that he believed the tweet by Trump that named her appeared to be protected by the First Amendment.)
Otero also wrote that Daniels “sought to publicly present herself as a political adversary” to Trump.
In addition, Monday’s ruling ordered Daniels to pay Trump’s legal fees.
“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,” Trump attorney Charles Harder said in an emailed statement as reported by multiple outlets.
Meanwhile, Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti filed an appeal to the dismissal, according to USA Today.
“Re Judge’s limited ruling: Daniels’ other claims against Trump and Cohen proceed unaffected. Trump’s contrary claims are as deceptive as his claims about the inauguration attendance,” Avenatti tweeted following news of the ruling. “We are confident in a reversal.”
Daniels filed a separate suit against the president and former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, seeking to invalidate a non-disclosure agreement in which Cohen paid her $130,000 to remain silent about the alleged affair between Daniels and Trump before the 2016 presidential election.
Trump and a White House spokesperson have denied having an affair with Daniels.