Former President Donald Trump may have just been indicted on 34 felony charges in Manhattan for his role in hush-money payments made in part to former adult film star Stormy Daniels, but he did win a major court victory against her this week.
On Tuesday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Daniels must pay Trump $121,000 more in attorney fees. That’s on top of the $500,000 she has already been ordered to pay him, according to Harmeet Dhillon, one of Trump’s attorneys.
In a tweet following the court decision, Dhillon wrote:
“Congratulations to President Trump on his final attorney fee victory in his favor this morning. Collectively, our firm obtained over $600,000 in attorney fee awards in his favor in the meritless litigation initiated by Stormy Daniels.”
Back in 2018, Michael Avenatti, Daniels’ attorney at that time, filed a defamation lawsuit against Trump. That year, both he and Daniels released a sketch of a man who they both said threatened Daniels as well as her daughter seven years earlier if she ever decided to talk about Trump.
In response to that, Trump sent a tweet that read:
“A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!”
The suit that Daniels filed claimed that the tweet was “false and defamatory.” The suit read:
“Mr. Trump knew that his false, disparaging statement would be read by people around the world, as well as widely reported, and that Ms. Clifford would be subjected to threats of violence, economic harm and reputational damage as a result.”
Stephanie Clifford is Daniels’ real name.
In the initial case, James Otera, a California federal judge, ruled in favor of Trump. In doing so, he ruled that the tweet that Trump sent “constitutes ‘rhetorical hyperbole’ normally associated with politics and public discourse in the United States. The First Amendment protects this type of rhetorical statement.”
That ruling was then upheld by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
In a statement that she released following that decision, Daniels said Avenatti ultimately filed that lawsuit on his own without getting her permission first, and actually went against what she wanted. She explained:
“Once it [the lawsuit] was filed, Trump’s lawyers overwhelmed Avenatti, and I was left the victim of an attorney’s fee award. I will go to jail before I pay a penny.”
Ironically, the ruling in this case over the attorney’s fees happened on the same day that Trump surrendered himself to a Manhattan court for his arraignment hearing that was the result of the hush-money payments his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, made to Daniels back in 2016.
That payment was made allegedly so that Daniels wouldn’t speak before the presidential election that year about an affair she had with Trump years before.
For his part, Trump has denied that he had the affair, and that he was just following his attorney’s legal advice when it came to the hush-money payment.