Pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels must pay President Donald Trump nearly $293,000 for his legal fees and another $1,000 in penalties after her defamation suit against him was dismissed, a federal judge in Los Angeles ordered on Dec. 11.
Attorney Charles Harder, acting on behalf of Trump, had told Judge S. James Otero on Dec. 3 that his law firm had spent more than 500 hours working on the case, ringing up a legal bill of almost $390,000. Otero cut the amount by 25 percent, resulting in $293,000.
Otero previously noted that fees by Harder’s firm—as high as $840 an hour—were reasonable but the 580 hours Harder’s firm said they spent on the case appeared to be excessive.
Harder had argued that the fees and penalties were justified owing to the extraordinary nature of the defamation case.
“This action is virtually unprecedented in American legal history,” Harder wrote in court papers. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, “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.”
Harder had also asked Otero to impose a nearly equal amount in sanctions as a deterrent against a “repeat filer” or against “frivolous defamation cases.” For this, Otero decided on a $1,000 penalty for Daniels.
Daniels has claimed that she had a one-night affair with Trump in 2006 and that she was paid $130,000 as part of a non-disclosure agreement she signed days before the 2016 election to prevent her from discussing the alleged affair.
She has written a book about the alleged affair and has been active on the media circuit promoting it and her side of the story.
She sued Trump earlier this year seeking to break the non-disclosure agreement. That case is still pending.
Trump has denied that the affair took place.
Daniels also claimed that, five years after the alleged affair, she was threatened to keep quiet by an unidentified man in a Las Vegas parking lot. She then released a composite sketch of the mystery man, who she said had threatened her and her child.
Daniels sued Trump for defamation after he responded by posting to Twitter: “A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!”
A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)! https://t.co/9Is7mHBFda
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 18, 2018
In October, Otero threw out the defamation case. He ruled that Trump’s tweet was “rhetorical hyperbole” against a political adversary and was protected speech under the First Amendment, which guarantees the right to freedom of speech.
Otero said the suit was a “one-of-a-kind” case that demanded a fair bit of legal work. Daniels has appealed Otero’s decision and her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, said on Dec. 3 he expects to prevail at a higher court.
Daniels said in late November that Avenatti had filed the defamation suit without her permission and had hidden crowdfunding efforts in her name from her.
“He has spoken on my behalf without my approval,” she said in a statement to The Daily Beast.
“He filed a defamation case against Donald Trump against my wishes. He repeatedly refused to tell me how my legal defense fund was being spent.
“Now he has launched a new crowdfunding campaign using my face and name without my permission and attributing words to me that I never wrote or said.”
Tom Ozimek of The Epoch Times and The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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