President Donald Trump’s lawyers want to use the dismissal of porn star Stormy Daniels’ defamation suit against Trump as a warning to others.
On Monday, Judge S. James Otero was asked to make Daniels pay nearly $800,000 in fees and penalties. The amount comes from a nearly $390,000 legal bill from attorney Charles Harder and an equal amount he wants as a penalty against a “repeat filer or frivolous defamation cases.”
Harder said the extraordinary nature of the case justifies the payment, Fox News reported.
“This action is virtually unprecedented in American legal history,” Harder wrote in court papers.
Daniels “not only brought a meritless claim for defamation against the sitting president of the United States, but she also has engaged, along with her attorney, in massive national publicity.”
— Bill Mitchell (@mitchellvii) December 4, 2018
Michael Avenatti, who represents Daniels, called the penalty “absurd and outrageous.”
“You can’t just pick a number out of thin air in an effort to put my client under Donald Trump’s thumb and intimidate her,” Avenatti said.
Avenatti indicated he expects to win in a separate case regarding a non-disclosure agreement Daniels signed in 2016.
Be clear: Any attys fees that may be awarded in the defamation case (that is going to be reversed on appeal) are but a small fraction of what Trump & Cohen will owe Stormy in the main NDA case. We have already forced them to admit they lied to the court and the judge repeatedly.
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) December 3, 2018
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, claimed she had an affair with Trump, which he has denied. The defamation phase of the case came about when Trump denigrated her claims about being threatened by a man she could never identify.
Otero called Trump’s statement “rhetorical hyperbole.” He has said Trump is entitled to have Daniels pay his legal fees, although his comments Monday indicated he thought Harder’s bill might be excessive.
Daniels has appealed Otero’s decision.
Although Daniels last week vented frustration with Avenatti’s actions, on Sunday she tweeted that the two resolved their differences.
Please see my statement below regarding 2020. pic.twitter.com/ztCfZUY6hA
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) December 4, 2018
Avenatti had said at one point that he was considering a White House run in 2020. On Tuesday, he tweeted that he is no longer running for president.