The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in California ruled in favor of Trump, whose lawyers argued that the president’s 2018 tweet amounted to an opinion about another user’s post and not a factual claim.
The lawsuit stemmed from an April 2018 incident in which Daniels and her then-lawyer, the now-indigent convicted felon Michael Avenatti, appeared on the television program The View, where they revealed what they claimed was a forensic sketch of a man who had accosted and threatened Daniels, invoking Trump’s name, in a Las Vegas casino parking lot, seven years earlier.
Following the broadcast, April 18, 2018, Trump reacted on Twitter, commenting on a user’s post noting the hilariously striking similarity between the sketch that Daniels helped create of her alleged intimidator and a picture of her then-husband.
Trump tweeted: “A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!.”
Avenatti unwisely (and against the advice of attorneys who were actually knowledgeable) filed suit against Trump, arguing that the tweet damaged Daniels’ reputation by painting her as a liar.
A copy of Daniels’ original compliant in the label case can be found here.
“Viewed through the eyes of an objectively reasonable reader, the tweet here reflects Mr. Trump’s opinion about the implications of the allegedly similar appearances of Ms. [Daniels’] ex-husband and the man in the sketch,” the court said in its nine-page ruling.
The court added that Trump’s tweet “plainly concerns the similarities between the sketch and the photograph” of Daniels’s ex-husband.
“Because the tweet juxtaposing the two images was displayed immediately below Mr. Trump’s tweet, the reader was provided with the information underlying the allegedly defamatory statement and was free to draw his or her own conclusions,” the judges wrote.
Daniels, through Avenatti, also argued in her ill-fated libel case that the tweet amounted to a denial of their sexual encounter. However, the judges ruled that the president’s tweet itself did not amount to a public denial.