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Judge Leans Toward Tossing Stormy Daniels Defamation Suit Against Trump

Edvard Pettersson, Erik Larson
Stormy Daniels. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg

A federal judge in Los Angeles indicated Monday that he’s inclined to dismiss a defamation lawsuit by adult move star Stephanie Clifford, better known as Stormy Daniels, against President Donald Trump.

The suit against Trump stems from her lawyer’s release in April of a composite sketch of an unknown man who Clifford claims threatened her in a Las Vegas parking lot in 2011 for agreeing to cooperate with a magazine article about a tryst she says she had with Trump in 2006. In an April tweet Trump called the man “nonexistent” and characterized the sketch as “a total con job.”

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U.S. District Judge S. James Otero at Monday’s hearing said that considering such statements as defamation would have a chilling effect on candidates running for office and hamper political discourse.

“This appears to be rhetorical hyperbole by a public official involving a public figure,” Otero said.

Trump asked that the case be dismissed because his tweet was a “protected opinion” and Clifford wasn’t harmed but only has benefited financially from her public dispute with him.

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