The adult-film actress Stormy Daniels’ libel suit against President Donald Trump was thrown out Monday by a federal judge, who also ordered Daniels to pay Trump’s legal fees in the case.
U.S. District Court Judge S. James Otero in Los Angeles said Trump was engaged in “rhetorical hyperbole” in April when he sent a tweet casting doubt on threats that Daniels claimed to have received in 2011 as she debated whether to go public with her claim of a sexual encounter with Trump.
“A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the fake news media for fools (but they know it),” Trump wrote on Twitter.
In a 14-page order, Otero noted that the tweet was a one-time statement by Trump and said it failed to meet the standard of a clear factual claim that Daniels had lied.
“Mr. Trump’s tweet constitutes ‘rhetorical hyperbole,’ which is ‘extravagant exaggeration [that is] employed for rhetorical effect,’” the judge wrote.
“Specifically, Mr. Trump’s tweet displays an incredulous tone, suggesting that the content of his tweet was not meant to be understood as a literal statement about Plaintiff. Instead, Mr. Trump sought to use language to challenge Plaintiff’s account of her affair and the threat that she purportedly received. … As the United States Supreme Court has held, a published statement that is ‘pointed, exaggerated, and heavily laden with emotional rhetoric and moral outrage’ cannot constitute a defamatory statement.”