Otero ruled in October that Trump’s statement was “rhetorical hyperbole” against a political adversary and was protected speech under the First Amendment.
Although the lawsuit didn’t get far before Otero tossed it, he said it was a “one of a kind” case that demanded a fair bit of legal work.
“Given a case of this magnitude, you have to err on the side of being thorough,” Otero said.
Daniels has appealed Otero’s decision and Avenatti said Monday he expects to prevail at a higher court.
Avenatti, who has positioned himself as a Trump foe and is considering a run for president in 2020, also said he will be seeking attorney’s fees against Trump in the ongoing hush money case and he anticipates being awarded a figure that “dwarfs exponentially” what Trump is seeking in the defamation case, possibly exceeding $2 million.
Trump’s lead attorney said the fees and unspecified monetary sanctions were earned because of the extraordinary nature of the defamation case and because of Avenatti’s gamesmanship.
“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.”
In a related case in which Daniels has alleged that her former lawyer, Keith Davidson, colluded with Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen to have her publicly deny the affair with Trump, Avenatti and Cohen’s lawyer briefly traded accusations Monday in the hallway of a Santa Monica courthouse.
Standing nose-to-nose with attorney Brent Blakely, Avenatti told him he represented a felon. Blakely shot back that Avenatti is a felon. Avenatti said he’s never been convicted of a crime.
Cohen has pleaded guilty to several felonies and admitted funneling money to Daniels to keep her quiet about an affair she has said she had with Trump.
Avenatti was arrested last month on suspicion of domestic violence.
Prosecutors declined bringing felony charges against Avenatti. They are investigating whether he should face a misdemeanor charge for allegations he roughed up a girlfriend. Avenatti has denied wrongdoing.
The Cohen and Davidson lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court has been put on hold, though a hearing is scheduled May 22.