A Los Angeles federal judge Tuesday ordered former adult film actress Stormy Daniels to pay $293,052.33 in attorney fees, costs and sanctions to President Donald Trump’s attorneys over a failed defamation lawsuit against him.
Daniels’ suit, which was transferred from New York to Los Angeles federal court in August, alleged that the president defamed her on Twitter when he suggested she had lied about being threatened to keep quiet about their alleged decade-old relationship.
The judge dismissed defamation allegations in October on free speech grounds but ruled that Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, must pay Trump’s attorney fees. Trump’s lawyers asked U.S. District Judge S. James Otero to award about $800,000, which included $389,000 for 580 hours of work by five attorneys, plus the same amount in penalties.
Clifford’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti, tweeted Tuesday that attorney fees are a minor issue in comparison to a separate legal battle pending in Otero’s court involving Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, over a Trump-Daniels non-disclosure agreement. A hearing in that case is scheduled for next month.
“Trump and his attorneys’ attempt to fool the public about the importance of the attorney fees in the defamation case, which are a fraction of what they owe my client in the main NDA case, is an absolute joke,” Avenatti wrote. “People are smarter than that.”
In a hearing last week, Otero said the hourly billing rates of Trump’s lawyers — ranging from $841.54 to $307.60 — were “within reason,” but the number of hours billed appeared “excessive.”
Daniels claims she had an affair with the married Trump in 2006 and signed the non-disclosure agreement prior to the 2016 presidential election. She is suing to have the agreement negated, arguing that Trump never signed it.
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