The Next Trap for Trump: Facts Can’t Be Defamed But People Can
by Bob Schwartz
Stormy Daniels released a sketch of the man who threatened her in 2011 to keep her from talking about Trump. In a tweet, Trump called this threat and sketch a “con job.” She has now sued Trump for defamation, claiming he accused her of the crime of making a false accusation of committing a crime against another.
This may seem like grasping at straws, but it isn’t. If Trump had ever said one word directly refuting her account of their relationship—which he hasn’t—he would find himself in a bigger defamation action. But even this smaller one is a harbinger of what may become a new trend.
Defamation is a perfect action to bring in the case of chronic and pathological liars. The essential defense to defamation is the truth of the matter asserted. If the reputation-damaging statement was undeniably made, but the speaker/writer will not or cannot prove that it is true, proof of damage is enough for the plaintiff to prevail. In every instance where Trump is the defamer, and an action is brought, he would be obliged to prove that the damaging words he says or tweets about someone are true. Which in all cases, he either won’t do or can’t do.
It is a shame that all the facts that Trump has brutally attacked don’t have standing to sue (two thousand lies and counting, just as president). But people do have that standing. Stormy Daniels, who has one of the smartest, most creative, most articulate, most media-savvy lawyers of the Trump era, is taking advantage of this vulnerability. Do not be surprised to see more of these defamation actions from all sorts of people who have been publicly maligned by Trump.