President Donald Trump is seeking more than $300,000 in attorney fees after a federal judge in Los Angeles threw out adult-film actress Stormy Daniel’s defamation lawsuit on free-speech grounds earlier this month.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, sued the president in April over a tweet in which he denied her claims of being threatened by a man in a Las Vegas parking lot in 2011 – calling it a “total con job.”
“A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!” Trump tweeted. He retweeted a side-by-side image comparing the sketch with a photo of Daniels’ husband.
Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, previously said the tweet damaged his client’s credibility by portraying her as a liar.
“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 U.S.,” U.S. District Judge S. James Otero in Los Angeles said in a ruling Monday, as Bloomberg reported. “The First Amendment protects this type of rhetorical statement.”
The ruling also stated Trump is “entitled to an award of his attorneys’ fees” against Daniels, the president’s attorney Charles Harder said in a statement to Fox News earlier this month.
Trump is requesting $341,559.50 in attorney’s fees from Daniels, according to a court filing on Monday by the president’s attorneys, the Washington Examiner reported.
The filing in Los Angeles court claimed Daniels “filed this action, not because it had any merit, but instead for the ulterior purposes of raising her media profile, engaging in political attacks against the president by herself and her attorney, who has appeared on more than 150 national television news interviews attacking the President and now is exploring a run for the presidency himself in 2020,” according to the outlet.
In response to the filing, Avenatti told the Examiner "this is a number created out of whole cloth," while adding, “it is nothing compared to what he will owe my client from the main NDA case."
Daniels, who claims to have had sex with President Donald Trump in 2006 when he was married, is also suing the president and his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen over a nondisclosure agreement she signed to keep quiet on the alleged affair. Trump has denied the accusation.
Avenatti has said he wants to keep the case alive.
Trump and his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, want the court to toss out the litigation as moot.
Daniels originally sued Trump and Cohen, who negotiated the deal, so she could speak publicly about the reported tryst without fear of reprisal. Cohen had threatened to sue her for $20 million.
Lawyers for Trump and Cohen now say the deal that paid Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet was invalid and they won’t sue her for breaking it.
Daniels had said the agreement should be invalidated because Cohen signed it, but Trump didn’t.
Cohen pleaded guilty last August to campaign finance violations for arranging payments both to Daniels and to a former Playboy model to influence the election.
Fox News’ Frank Miles, Bradford Betz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.