Stormy Daniels, the adult film star, has lost her appeal in her unsuccessful defamation action against Donald Trump, leaving her paying the former president almost $300,000 in legal expenses. “I will go to jail before I pay a cent,” Daniels tweeted Monday, following the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in the long-running lawsuit.
Trump praised the verdict by the appeals court, which he frequently chastised throughout his presidency, calling it “a total and complete triumph and vindication for, and of me.” When he was Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti filed the defamation claim against Trump in 2018. Daniels, actual name Stephanie Clifford, claimed in a statement Tuesday that Avenatti filed the lawsuit “without my knowledge and against my desires.”
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“Once it was filed, Trump’s attorneys swamped Avenatti, and I was left the victim of an attorney’s fee award,” she said, calling it a “sad reality” that a “predator” like Trump “can publicly brag about attacking women and become president and be rewarded money for his horrible behavior.”
Before the 2016 presidential election, Daniels was paid $130,000 by former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to be silent about an alleged sexual encounter she had with the married Trump in 2006. Trump has already denied the incident occurred, and he reiterated his denial in a statement issued on Monday. “As I have indicated several times over the years, I never had an affair with Stormy Daniels, nor would I have ever wanted to,” he added.
After the hush money payment became public, Daniels said she was threatened and advised to be silent about the alleged encounter in 2011, when a guy approached her while she was in Las Vegas with her young daughter and urged her to “leave Trump alone.”
She claims the man then turned to face her kid and added, “That’s a lovely little child. It would be a tragedy if something happened to her mother.” In 2018, Daniels and Avenatti presented a drawing of the individual, which then-President Trump ridiculed on Twitter.
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“Years later, a doodle about a nonexistent individual.” A great ruse, fooling the Fake News Media (but they know it)!” Trump took to Twitter.
According to Daniels’ lawsuit, Trump’s tweet was “false and defamatory.” “Mr. Trump knew that his false, derogatory statement would be read and extensively published by individuals all over the globe, and that Ms. Clifford would face threats of violence, economic ruin, and reputational damage as a result,” Daniels’ complaint stated.
However, a federal court in California agreed with Trump, ruling that the tweet “constitutes’rhetorical hyperbole’normally associated with politics and public debate in the United States.” “The First Amendment protects this sort of rhetorical assertion,” wrote Judge James Otero, ruling that Trump was entitled to attorney’s fees in the case.
On Friday, the 9th Circuit upheld that order, concluding, in part, that Daniels had waited too long to dispute the lower court’s decision. Daniels blamed Avenatti for the delay in her statement on Tuesday.
Daniels’ new counsel did not reply quickly to a request for comment. Avenatti was convicted earlier this year of wire fraud and identity theft for wrongfully pocketing nearly $300,000 of Daniels’ $800,000 advance for her book, “Full Disclosure.”
In conjunction with threats he made against Nike, the sports equipment and clothing corporation, he was also convicted in 2020 of extortion, transmission of interstate communications with purpose to extort, and wire fraud. A federal court sentenced him to 212 years in prison for these acts last year.