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US judge suggests he may dismiss Stormy Daniels lawsuit against Trump

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Stormy Daniels

President Donald Trump likely had a free-speech right to make a Twitter comment disputing allegations by adult film actress Stormy Daniels, a federal judge said on Monday, indicating he was inclined to dismiss her defamation lawsuit against Trump.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford and who has said she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006, sued the president for defamation in April in federal court over the tweet.

The lawsuit centers on Daniels’ assertion that a man approached her in 2011 in a Las Vegas parking lot and made a veiled threat after she agreed to talk about her alleged encounter with Trump to In Touch magazine.

Soon after Daniels released a sketch of the man she said threatened her, Trump, who has denied having an affair with Daniels, disputed her account on Twitter, saying: “A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!”

Daniels’ attorneys said the tweet portrayed her as a liar, but attorneys for Trump asked a federal judge in Los Angeles to dismiss the defamation lawsuit.

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“The question is whether the tweet by the president is protected communication or political hyperbole and non-defamatory on its face,” U.S. District Judge James Otero said at a hearing on Monday.

Otero cited certain protections from defamation Trump would have under the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of free-speech rights.

“He’s a public official, he’s president of the United States, so it doesn’t get much higher than that,” Otero said. “It’s free speech by a public official on a matter of public concern.”

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Otero stopped short of issuing a formal ruling on the request to dismiss the lawsuit.

Michael Avenatti, an attorney for Daniels, told reporters outside court he expected Otero to make a ruling within days, and that he would appeal if the case were dismissed.

The lawsuit was originally filed in New York but was transferred to Otero’s court in Los Angeles because he is holding hearings on another lawsuit involving Daniels.

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Last month, Trump’s longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to violating federal election law by paying Daniels $130,000 not to disclose information harmful to Trump.

The White House, after the plea, denied any wrongdoing by Trump.

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Peter Cooney


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Trump pits Apollo 11 astronauts against NASA chief — he thinks he understands space travel better

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President Donald Trump welcomed surviving Apollo 11 crew members Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to the White House Friday, using the occasion to tell his space chief he would prefer to go straight to Mars without returning to the Moon.

It is a theme he had touched upon earlier this month in a tweet, and this time drew on the support of the two former astronauts, who are taking part in celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of their mission, to make his case to NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine.

"To get to Mars, you have to land on the Moon, they say," said Trump, without looking convinced.

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Babies born near oil and gas wells are up to 70% more likely to have congenital heart defects, new study shows

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Researchers at the University of Colorado studied pregnant women who are among the 17 million Americans living within a mile from an active oil or gas well

Proximity to oil and gas sites makes pregnant mothers up to 70 percent more likely to give birth to a baby with congenital heart defects, according to a new study.

Led by Dr. Lisa McKenzie at the University of Colorado, researchers found that the chemicals released from oil and gas wells can have serious and potentially fatal effects on babies born to mothers who live within a mile of an active well site—as about 17 million Americans do.

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Mueller testimony ‘is going to be a devastating day for the president’: former White House lawyer

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The eyes of the nation will be on Capitol Hill on Wednesday when former special counsel Robert Mueller publicly testifies before Congress.

Mueller, who was a federal prosecutor, top DOJ official, and director of the FBI before serving as special counsel, is scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday morning and the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday afternoon.

"As Democrats prepare for the arrival of special counsel Robert Mueller on Capitol Hill next week, their plans for his day of wall-to-wall testimony is becoming clearer: if Donald Trump were anyone but the president, he would be charged with the crimes Mueller uncovered," MSNBC anchor Nicolle Wallace reported on Friday.

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