LOS ANGELES (CBSLA/AP) — A federal judge appeared poised Monday to toss out a defamation lawsuit against President Donald Trump by porn actress Stormy Daniels.

Judge S. James Otero said in U.S. District Court that a tweet the president wrote in April appears to be “rhetorical hyperbole” and speech protected under the First Amendment.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, sued Trump in April after he said a composite sketch of a man she said threatened her in 2011 to keep quiet about an alleged affair with the real estate mogul was a “con job.”

Trump tweeted that the man was “nonexistent” and that Daniels was playing the “fake news media for fools.” He retweeted a side-by-side photo comparing the sketch with a photo of Daniels’ husband.

Otero said he would rule later, but that Trump’s statement seemed like an opinion and speech protected under the First Amendment.

“To allow the complaint to go forward and to have one consider this to be defamatory in the context it was made would have a chilling effect,” Otero said.
A second lawsuit, which was moved from New York to Los Angeles last month, accuses Trump of falsely tweething that Daniels lied about being threatened in 2011 to not go public with the story of their alleged relationship.

The start of the non-disclosure agreement lawsuit has been delayed twice. In April, U.S. District Judge S. James Otero ordered a three-month stay in light of a federal criminal investigation of Cohen that is continuing in the Southern District of New York. With that investigation ongoing, Otero agreed in July to extend the stay for another 45 days.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, has said she had sex once with the married Trump in 2006 and carried on a platonic relationship with him for about a year afterward. Trump has denied any sexual relationship with Daniels.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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