US judge tosses out Stormy Daniels defamation suit against Trump

Stormy Daniels, the porn star who claims to have slept with US President Donald Trump over a decade ago, talks with a journalist during an interview at the Berlin fair "Venus" in Berlin on October 11, 2018. (AFP / dpa / Ralf Hirschberger)
Updated 16 October 2018

US judge tosses out Stormy Daniels defamation suit against Trump

LOS ANGELES: President Donald Trump scored a legal victory Monday against porn star Stormy Daniels when a federal US judge rejected her defamation suit against him.
Daniels — whose real name is Stephanie Clifford — still has a separate lawsuit against the president linked to $130,000 in hush money she was paid by Trump’s lawyer shortly before the November 2016 presidential election to keep quiet about an alleged affair.
US District Judge S. James Otero in Los Angeles tossed out the defamation suit Daniels filed earlier this year after Trump claimed on Twitter that the adult film actress had invented threats to silence her over her claims the pair slept together more than a decade ago.
“The Court agrees with Mr.Trump’s argument because the tweet in question constitutes ‘rhetorical hyperbole’ normally associated with politics and public discourse in the United States,” Otero wrote in his ruling.
“The First Amendment (of the US Constitution) protects this type of rhetorical statement.”
Trump’s lawyer Charles Harder called the ruling a “total victory for President Trump and total defeat for Stormy Daniels.”
Otero ruled that the billionaire Trump is entitled to have his lawyers’ fees paid as part of the ruling.
The amount will be determined later, Harder said.
Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti — who has strongly suggested he is ready to take on Trump in the 2020 elections — later posted on his Twitter account a notice of appeal with the Ninth Circuit court.

Daniels sued after Trump tweeted in April about her release of a sketch of a man she said warned her in a Las Vegas parking lot not to talk about their tryst.
“A sketch years later about a nonexistent man,” Trump tweeted. “A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it!),” Trump tweeted.
The president’s former longtime lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty in August to campaign finance violations in the form of hush payments during the 2016 campaign to two women who alleged they had affairs with Trump.
He said he had paid them at Trump’s request.
Although Cohen did not name the women, they were believed to be Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal.
Because the hush payments were intended to influence the outcome of the elections, they violated US laws governing campaign contributions, making Trump an — as yet — unindicted co-conspirator.
The president’s story about Cohen’s payments has changed multiple times.
In September, Cohen’s lawyer said that, following the August guilty plea, Cohen provided “critical information” to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election and whether Trump’s campaign colluded.
Separately, Trump was sued for defamation in 2017 by Summer Zervos, who was a contestant on Trump’s former reality TV show “The Apprentice.”
She claims Trump lied when responding to her allegations that he forcibly kissed and groped her in 2007.
US media reported in September that Trump would provide sworn written responses in the case.
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Hong Kong court rules ban on face masks unconstitutional

Updated 11 min 19 sec ago

Hong Kong court rules ban on face masks unconstitutional

  • Hong Kong’s High Court says law is ‘incompatible with the Basic Law’

HONG KONG: A government ban on demonstrators wearing face masks, aimed at helping to quell months of pro-democracy unrest in Hong Kong, is unconstitutional, the territory’s high court ruled Monday.

“The restrictions it imposes on fundamental rights ... go further than is reasonably necessary... and therefore fail to meet the proportionality test,” the court said, according to a press summary.

The ban on face-covering came into force in October, when the city’s unelected pro-Beijing leader invoked colonial-era legislation for the first time in more than 50 years.

The move was seen as a watershed legal moment for the city since its 1997 return by Britain to China — but has been largely symbolic.

Demonstrators — most of them wearing masks — have continued to clash with police, often violently, as they press their demands for greater democracy for Hong Kong, as well as an independent inquiry into alleged brutality by the increasingly unpopular police force.