Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Trump: Stormy Daniels Ordered to Pay Legal Fees

When her defamation lawsuit against Trump in 2018 was dismissed, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday that adult film actress Stormy Daniels must pay the former president almost $122,000 in legal expenses.

Although the 34-count charge against Trump for allegedly manipulating business documents is extraordinary, the civil complaint is separate. On Tuesday, Trump appeared in a Manhattan court and pleaded not guilty to the accusations against him.

Though unrelated, the two instances involve Daniels, who received $130,000 to sign an NDA in 2016 before the presidential election and keep quiet about an alleged one-night stand she had with Trump in 2006. Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, helped set up the NDA.

Trump has denied the affair has ever happened. Still, on Tuesday, he commented on TruthSocial, saying the $130,000 NDA was “absolutely legal.”

On Tuesday, a judge mandated payment of more than $500,000 in legal fees. Former President Bush’s legal bills that Daniels was initially ordered to pay. All of the $293,000 she was ordered to reimburse in a defamation claim decided against her in a lower court in 2018 after she appealed the judgment and lost in federal court in March of 2022. After losing another appeal, Daniels was forced to pay $245,000 in fees.

Libel Suit Dismissed

As the then-president tweeted a photo of Daniels and her ex-husband next to a composite image of Her commission showing a mysterious man, Daniels (full name: Stephanie Clifford) sued Trump for defamation.

Daniels said that the unknown man threatened her and her daughter in a Las Vegas parking lot in 2011, five years after the alleged affair, following an interview in which she claimed to have had the experience with Trump was published in In Touch Magazine.

In October 2018, District Judge S. James Otero threw out Daniels’ defamation lawsuit. He concluded that Trump’s tweet was permitted under the First Amendment because it constituted “rhetorical hyperbole” against a political opponent.

Harder LLP and Dhillon Law Group owe $121,972.56 in legal fees for their work defending against the appeal and preparing for the fee application. The attorneys spent a total of 183.35 hours on the case.

Daniels was already ordered to pay Trump’s legal bills by Judge Otero. Daniels, however, appealed the order because the costs were high. On Tuesday, the Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Daniels’ appeal, finding no merit to his claims that the requested fees are excessive and unfair.

The appeals court ruled against Trump’s request for an additional $5,150.00 in fees for 10 hours of work drafting the fee reply because the payments were not supported by a precise itemization of the duties accomplished on each date and the time spent on each activity, nor did Trump name the lawyers who worked on the fee reply or the rates of pay that were invoiced.