Daniels had filed a new lawsuit against Trump accusing him of defaming her in one of his tweets. The complaint alleged that Trump’s tweets mocking Daniels over a forensic sketch of a man she says threatened her to keep quiet about her claims of an affair with the president amount to defamation because they accuse her of fabricating the alleged crime, which would itself be illegal.
Judge S. James Otero on Monday ruled that the president’s tweets referring to Daniels were protected by free-speech laws. Her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, said they would appeal the decision.
“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. The First Amendment protects this type of rhetorical statement,” Otero wrote. Otero presides over both lawsuits.
Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen has been at the center of a controversy surrounding a $130,000 payment to Daniels, who has allegedly had sex with Trump in 2006 and was paid money shortly before the 2016 election to say nothing about the affair.
Cohen has also circulated a statement signed by Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, in which the actress denied receiving “hush money” from Trump.
Cohen, who had worked as a counsel to the Trump Organization for more than a decade, said in a statement to The New York Times that he paid the money to Daniels out of his own pocket.
Nearly 20 women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct, ranging from unwanted touching to groping to assault. Trump has denied any wrongdoing, and sometimes claimed that he does not know the women. The White House has called his accusers liars.
Weeks before the presidential election last November, The Washington Post released a tape in which Trump boasted about how he sexually assaulted women because he was powerful.