Michael Avenatti hardest hit? Today a judge dismissed Stormy Daniels’ defamation case against President Trump, granting Trump the right to seek payment of his attorney’s fees from her. The decision reads in part:
…Mr. Trump, as President, made a hyperbolic statement against a person who has sought to publicly present herself as a political adversary to him. In filings before this Court, Ms. Clifford has challenged the legitimacy of Mr. Trump’s victory in the 2016 Presidential election. Mr. Trump’s tweet served as a public rejoinder to allegations made by Plaintiff. If this Court were to prevent Mr. Trump from engaging in this type of “rhetorical hyperbole” against a political adversary, it would significantly hamper the office of the President. Any strongly-worded response by a president to another politician or public figure could constitute an action for defamation. This would deprive this country of the “discourse” common to the political process. In short, should Plaintiff publicly voice her opinions about Mr. Trump, Mr. Trump is entitled to publicly voice non-actionable opinions about Plaintiff. To allow Plaintiff to proceed with her defamation action would, in effect, permit Plaintiff to make public allegations against the President without giving him the opportunity to respond. Such a holding would violate the First Amendment.
But here’s the part of the decision that will really sting. The judge says Daniels has to pay Trump’s attorney fees:
Having granted the Special Motion and denied Plaintiff leave to amend, the Court finally holds that Defendant is entitled to attorney’s fees. Texas law is unambiguous that “the TCPA requires an award of ‘reasonable attorney’s fees’ to the successful movant.” Sullivan v. Abraham, 488 S.W.3d 294, 299 (Tex. 2016). “A ‘reasonable’ attorney’s fee ‘is one that is not excessive or extreme, but rather moderate or fair.'”
Trump’s attorney released a statement after the decision which says in part, “No amount of spin or commentary by Stormy Daniels or her lawyer, Mr. Avenatti can truthfully characterize today’s ruling in any way other than total victory for President Trump and total defeat for Stormy Daniels.”
Stormy Daniels lost her defamation suit against Trump & now she has to pay his legal fees. pic.twitter.com/MU1jYUvhzD
— Ken Webster Jr (@ProducerKen) October 15, 2018
For his part, Avenatti has vowed to appeal:
Re Judge’s limited ruling: Daniels’ other claims against Trump and Cohen proceed unaffected. Trump’s contrary claims are as deceptive as his claims about the inauguration attendance.
We will appeal the dismissal of the defamation cause of action and are confident in a reversal.
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) October 15, 2018
A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)! https://t.co/9Is7mHBFda
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 18, 2018
I guess Stormy Daniels is the one on the hook for Trump’s legal fees. She can’t be too happy about that. It really has been a rough month for her attorney Michael Avenatti, as Ari Fleischer pointed out. First, his Kavanaugh accuser was considered a backfire by people in his own party and now this:
Michael Avenatti is having a strong month. First he helped put Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court. Now, he’s put Stormy Daniels into debt. Boy I hope he becomes the Democratic nominee for President. With that kind of track record, he’ll make Hillary look good. https://t.co/cgdAF74xbi
— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) October 15, 2018
Here’s a Fox News report on the dismissal.
JUST IN: A judge has dismissed a defamation lawsuit brought by Stormy Daniels against President Trump, rules Daniels is liable for the president's attorney's fees. pic.twitter.com/47cS2Mb5In
— Fox News (@FoxNews) October 15, 2018