A California judge ruled on Tuesday that Stormy Daniels has to pay nearly $300,000 to President Donald Trump — a fraction of the $800,000 that Trump’s lawyer asked for, but still a notable amount.
The ruling follows Daniels’s dismissed defamation lawsuit against the president. She filed the suit in April, after Trump tweeted that Daniels’s allegations about being threatened by a man in a Las Vegas parking lot were not true. In a tweet, Trump called the sketch of the man Daniels claimed threatened her a “total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools.” In October, Judge James Otero ruled that Trump’s tweet was “rhetorical hyperbole” protected by the first amendment.
Daniels has been at the center of a number of legal scandals for the president. There was the revelation that he and his former lawyer Michael Cohen (who pleaded guilty to multiple criminal charges in August) paid Daniels $130,000 to stay quiet about her alleged affair with the president. She is also suing Trump and Cohen to get out of a nondisclosure agreement she signed about the alleged affair, and filed an additional suit against Cohen and her former lawyer Keith Davidson for colluding against her.
A week and a half ago, Daniels said she never wanted to file this suit in the first place, and also accused her lawyer Michael Avenatti of fundraising without her knowledge or consent. “He has spoken on my behalf without my approval. He filed a defamation case against Donald Trump against my wishes,” read part of Daniels’s statement to the Daily Beast. “He repeatedly refused to tell me how my legal defense fund was being spent.”
On Tuesday, Avenatti didn’t call Otero’s ruling a loss. He tweeted that the case will be won on appeal, and that Daniels’s net gain will outweigh any financial loss from the failed defamation suit. “If Stormy has to pay $300k to Trump in the defamation case (which will never hold up on appeal) and Trump has to pay Stormy $1,500,000 in the NDA case (net $1,200,000 to Stormy), how is this a Trump win?” Avenatti wrote in a now-deleted tweet.
Daniels has not commented on Judge Otero’s ruling.