- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Republican consultant Cheri Jacobus can’t sue President-elect Donald Trump for remarks he made about her on Twitter, a New York Supreme Court judge ruled this week, citing “heated rhetoric” during a “particularly raucous” White House race in formally dismissing her defamation suit Tuesday.

Ms. Jacobus claimed in court to have suffered emotional distress as well as damage to her career and reputation due to becoming the target of one of the president-elect’s frequent Twitter tirades, and sought upwards of $4 million from Mr. Trump, his campaign and former spokesperson Corey Lewandowski due to the “public ridicule” she alleged after appearing in a television segment with the latter last February.

Mr. Trump used his widely followed Twitter account to label Ms. Jacobus a “real dummy” and a “major loser” with “zero credibility” shortly after she critiqued him on CNN, spurring her to sue for libel two months later.

Weighing in this week, however, Judge Barbara Jaffee said the suit should be dismissed because the president-elect’s comments constitute opinion, not fact, offered in the midst of a political campaign already abundant in personal attacks.

“The context of a national presidential primary and a candidate’s strategic and almost exclusive use of Twitter to advance his views arguably distinguish this case from those where heated rhetoric was held to constitute communications that cannot be taken seriously,” the judge wrote in her 20-page ruling.

“Moreover, the immediate context of defendants’ statements is the familiar back and forth between a political commentator and the subject of her criticism, and the larger context is the Republican presidential primary and Trump’s regular use of Twitter to circulate his positions and skewer his opponents and others who criticize him, including journalist and media organizations whose coverage he finds objectionable,” the ruling continued.

Mr. Trump’s routine tweets are so “rife with vague and simplistic insults” that they deflect serious consideration, she wrote.

“Indeed, to some, truth itself has been lost in the cacophony of online and Twitter verbiage to such a degree that it seems to roll off the consciousness like water off a duck’s back.”

Jay Butterman, an attorney for Ms. Jacobus, told reporters the ruling will be appealed.

“Today a court gave Trump a free pass to trample on the rights of free speech of any critic,” he told USA TODAY. “What the court is doing is allowing defamation in the context of political speech — Trump can now eliminate his critics by dominating the media.”

The ruling marks “a sad day for free speech, a sad day for freedom of the press and sad day for democracy,” he said.

Around 75 lawsuits were pending against Mr. Trump as of Election Day, USA Today reported Tuesday.

Attorneys who represented Mr. Trump in the defamation suit did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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