A U.S. District Court judge in Los Angeles indicated Monday that he may dismiss Stormy Daniels’ defamation lawsuit against President Donald Trump, according to Reuters.
U.S. District Judge James Otero said at a hearing on Monday that Trump probably had a free speech right to make a Twitter post refuting a threat charge made by the porn film star, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, the news service reported.
Daniels had filed a defamation lawsuit against Trump, saying that Trump used the post to call her a liar in connection with a 2011 incident in Las Vegas when a man threatened her after she agreed to talk about her alleged sexual encounter with Trump for Touch magazine, per Reuters.
The back-and-forth between Daniels and the president has become part of the wide-ranging investigation conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller. It has been the subject of an alleged nondisclosure agreement involving former Trump lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen.
A lawsuit over that nondisclosure agreement is also being heard by Otero.
“The question is whether the tweet by the president is protected communication or political hyperbole and non-defamatory on its face,” U.S. District Judge James Otero said during the hearing, per Reuters. “He’s a public official, he’s president of the United States, so it doesn’t get much higher than that. It’s free speech by a public official on a matter of public concern.”
Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti threatened to appeal of Otero dismissed the case, according to Reuters.
The Associated Press reported that Otero set a Dec. 3 hearing involving Daniels’ lawsuit over the nondisclosure agreement allegedly between the actress and Trump, which was orchestrated by Cohen.
Daniels had sued to be free of the agreement so she could speak about her alleged affair with Trump, the wire service stated. Cohen had threatened to sue Daniels for $20 million but has since filed documents along with Trump saying they have no interest in enforcing the deal, per The AP.
Cohen is seeking $130,000 he reportedly gave to Daniels to keep quiet about the alleged affair. The actress had charged that she had sex with Trump once in 2006 and maintained a plutonic friendship afterward for roughly a year, The AP reported.
Trump, who was married to Melania Trump at the time, has denied the relationship.
Last month, Cohen pleaded guilty to eight criminal charges, including campaign finance violations in connection with the president in the deal with Daniels allegedly made during the 2016 presidential campaign, the Wall Street Journal reported.
In court then, Cohen told a federal judge that Donald Trump had directed him during the campaign to buy the silence of Daniels and another woman who claimed they had affairs with him, the newspaper said. The second woman was identified as former Playboy model Karen McDougal.