Stephanie Clifford v. Donald J. Trump, No. 2:18-cv-06893-SJO-FFM (C.D. Cal. October 15, 2018); Notice of Appeal to Ninth Circuit filed October 15, 2018; Appellate Scheduling Order, Case No. 18-56351 issued October 16, 2018.
Entertainer Stormy Daniels (Stephanie Clifford) stirred scandal through allegations about an encounter with now President Trump nearly fifteen years ago. When a Trump Twitter retort accused the entertainer of a “con,” Daniels sued for defamation.
A federal district court in Los Angeles reviewed defendant Trump’s motion to dismiss under the Texas anti-SLAPP statute, a procedural and substantive mechanism for short-cutting the time to disposition for cases grounded in defamation allegedly arising from participating in speech related to matters of public interest.
Trump prevailed, as the court found that the Tweet was “rhetorical hyperbole,” a form of opinion which is protected speech under the First Amendment. To hold otherwise, the court observed, would be to silence the President in the face of any manner of allegation.
If dismissal were not enough, the court ordered Daniels to pay Trump’s attorneys’ fees.
Daniels has noted her appeal in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Appellate briefing will conclude in late winter of 2019.