Federal Judge Ditches Stormy Daniels’ Defamation Suit Against President Trump

She claimed he falsely accused her of a crime. The court disagreed.

Stormy DanielsRalf Hirschberger/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

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A federal judge in Los Angeles dismissed Stormy Daniels’ defamation lawsuit against President Donald Trump Monday afternoon. The lawsuit, filed in April, concerned Daniels’ claim that she had been approached and threatened by a man in a Las Vegas parking lot in 2011, soon after she agreed to discuss her affair with Trump in an article with In Touch magazine. Daniels says she never went public with her story as a result of the threat, but in April 2018 released a sketch of the man who threatened her. The day after the sketch was released, the president tweeted that the sketch was of a “nonexistent man” and “a total con job.”

Daniels (a.k.a. Stephanie Clifford) claimed in her complaint, which was first filed in New York, that the president had defamed her by accusing her of committing a crime: “[B]y calling the incident a ‘con job’ Mr. Trump’s statement would be understood to state that Ms. Clifford was fabricating the crime and the existence of the assailant, both of which are prohibited under New York law, as well as the law of numerous other states.” (The case was later transferred to a court in California.)

Last last month, Judge S. James Otero, indicated he was likely to dismiss the case, noting that Trump’s tweet was protected under free speech laws. Court documents posted Monday stated that the court considered Trump’s tweet “rhetorical hyperbole” protected by the First Amendment. Michael Avenatti, Daniels’ lawyer, says that he plans to appeal.

Another lawsuit related to Daniels’ non-disclosure agreement remains pending.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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