Culture

Stormy Daniels Files A Defamation Lawsuit Against Donald Trump In New York Federal Court

by Tod Perry

May 1, 2018

A lawsuit filed in New York federal court might cause Donald Trump to think before he tweets.

Adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, has filed a defamation lawsuit against Trump based on a tweet he sent April 18. She is currently involved in another lawsuit with Trump to invalidate a 2016 hush agreement in which she was paid to keep quiet about an alleged affair with Trump.

In March, Daniels appeared on “60 Minutes” to discuss her relationship with Trump. During the interview, she claimed she was threatened by a man who told her to, “Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.” She also alleged that the man threatened her daughter.

A few weeks later, Daniels released a sketch of the man she says threatened her and Trump reacted on Twitter. He retweeted a Scottish supporter who thought the sketch looks like Stormy’s husband, Brendon Miller. “A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!” he tweeted.

This prompted Daniels’ outspoken lawyer, Michael Avenatti, to launch a defamation lawsuit against the president.

“By 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,” Avenatti wrote in the lawsuit.

“It was apparent that Mr. Trump meant to convey that Ms. Clifford is a liar, someone who should not be trusted, that her claims about the threatening encounter are false, and that she was falsely accusing the individual depicted in the sketch of committing a crime, where no crime had been committed,” Avenatti wrote. “Mr. Trump made his statement either knowing it was false, had serious doubts about the truth of his statement, or made the statement with reckless disregard for its truth or falsity.”

According to Forbes legal contributor Michelle Fabio, the lawsuit isn’t exactly a slam dunk for the Daniels’ camp. “Generally, a plaintiff in a defamation case must show that the defendant made a false and defamatory statement about the plaintiff … Avenatti claims Trump’s tweet was defamatory per se because it accused Daniels of committing a crime,” she wrote. “Ordinary defamation suits are often hard to prove, but they are incredibly challenging to win when public figures are involved because the plaintiff must also show that the defendant acted with actual malice.”

Whether Daniels wins or loses her suit, it could at least cause Trump to examine his tweeting habits. When a careless tweet can cause a lawsuit and even more bad press, maybe it’s best to put the phone down, take a deep breath, and belittle his cronies like Jeff Sessions instead.

Share image by Michael Vadon/Flickr and ​Flipchip, LasVegasVegas.com/Wikimedia Commons.

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Stormy Daniels Files A Defamation Lawsuit Against Donald Trump In New York Federal Court