Trump awarded nearly $300,000 in legal fees in Daniels defamation lawsuit

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[December 12, 2018]  By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Adult film actress Stormy Daniels must pay more than $290,000 to reimburse President Donald Trump for legal fees he spent defending himself in a defamation lawsuit she brought against him over a tweet, a judge ruled on Tuesday.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, lost her defamation lawsuit in October, with a federal judge in Los Angeles saying the president's tweet was protected by the freedom of speech clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Following that ruling, Trump's attorneys at a hearing last week requested nearly $800,000 in legal fees and sanctions, but U.S. District Judge James Otero in his latest ruling awarded a fraction of the sum.

Otero's ruling awarded Trump most of the legal costs his attorneys had sought, but only $1,000 in sanctions.

"The court's order, along with the court's prior order dismissing Stormy Daniels' defamation case against the president, together constitute a total victory for the president, and a total defeat for Stormy Daniels in this case," Charles Harder, an attorney for Trump, said in a statement.

Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti, in a statement suggested the attorneys' fees in the defamation case were of small importance in Daniels' broader litigation battle with Trump.

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Adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, speaks to media along with lawyer Michael Avenatti (R) outside federal court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 16, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan Mcdermid/File Photo

Daniels, who has written a "tell-all" book about Trump called "Full Disclosure," has separate from the defamation lawsuit gone to court to challenge the validity of a $130,000 hush money agreement over a tryst she claimed she and Trump had more than a decade ago.

Trump has denied he had an affair with Daniels, saying she was paid to stop "false and extortionist accusations."

Daniels sued Trump for defamation after he denied her assertion that she had a sexual encounter with him in 2006 and disputed her account that she was threatened in 2011 for agreeing to a press interview about the alleged encounter.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Additional reporting by Dana Feldman; editing by Bill Tarrant and Lisa Shumaker)

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