Donald Trump says he wants to “open up” libel laws, but a few days before he becomes the next President of the United States, he became fortunate that such laws place high burdens on plaintiffs. A New York Supreme Court judge on Tuesday agreed to dismiss a defamation suit brought by Cheryl Jacobus, a political strategist who, Trump tweeted, had “begged” him for a job and went “hostile” when she was turned down.
Jacobus sued Trump and his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski over comments made in the midst of a heated Republican primary. Seeking $4 million in damages, she alleged in her complaint that the Trump campaign tried to recruit her in May 2015, even attempting to entice her with the prospect of a post-campaign job at Fox News. She says Lewandowski told her that Trump was very close to Roger Ailes. She further claimed of coming to the judgment that working for Trump was untenable because Lewandowski was a “powder keg.”
In January 2016, she appeared on CNN to discuss Trump’s decision to skip a primary debate on Fox News and opined that Trump was “using the Megyn Kelly manufactured kerfuffle as an excuse.” A few days later, she returned to Don Lemon’s show and was dubious about Trump’s claims of self-funding his campaign.
This may have set Trump off. In one tweet, he wrote how he “turned her down twice and she went hostile. Major loser, zero credibility.”
In response to the defamation lawsuit, Trump moved to dismiss on the basis that the statements were “pure opinion,” not susceptible to any defamatory meaning because they couldn’t be proved true or . His attorney also pointed the judge’s attention to the hyperbolic nature of Twitter, and wrote that when plaintiffs like Jacobus have access to the media, they face higher burdens because of their opportunity to rebut points.
This led to a noteworthy hearing in October where the judge heard Trump’s attorney, Lawrence Rosen, say that “perception is reality” and the plaintiff’s attorney, Jay Butterman, nod to Nazi Germany with a warning that the rights of individuals could be trampled upon just for voicing some criticism of someone in power.
Today, New York judge Barbara Jaffe released her decision granting Trump’s motion to dismiss.