Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, (left) with lawyer Michael Avenatti. (Photo: David Handschuh/ALM)

 

A federal judge has dismissed a defamation suit against President Donald Trump filed by Stormy Daniels, the porn star who alleged she and the president had an affair.

Daniels filed her suit on April 30, alleging Trump posted false statements on Twitter dismissing a composite sketch she said depicted a man who had threatened her in 2011 to keep quiet about the affair. The tweet said: “A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!”

“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,” wrote Judge S. James Otero of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in a ruling on Monday. “The First Amendment protects this type of rhetorical statement.”

Michael Avenatti, an attorney for Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, immediately filed a notice of appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He posted on Twitter: “Daniels’ other claims against Trump and Cohen proceed unaffected. Trump’s contrary claims are as deceptive as his claims about the inauguration attendance. We will appeal the dismissal of the defamation cause of action and are confident in a reversal.”

“There is little dispute that Ms. Clifford’s complaint relates to Mr. Trump’s exercise of his right of free speech on an issue of public concern,” wrote Otero. Even if it was false, he wrote, it “was not meant to be understood as a literal statement about Plaintiff.”

Otero did not give Daniels an opportunity to file an amended complaint.


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