Calling a person a “loser” and a “major dummy” with “zero credibility” is not defamatory, Donald Trump’s lawyers say.
In papers filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, lawyers for Trump, his campaign and his ousted campaign manager say Cheryl Jacobus‘ defamation suit against them should be tossed because their statements that she’s a “dummy” and opportunist who begged for a job with his campaign “are protected opinion speech” — and “hyperbole” should be expected from a presidential candidate.
Jacobus’ $4 million lawsuit says it was the Trump campaign that approached her to work as its political director, and she turned the job down because she feared the now-canned campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, was a “powder keg.”
But, her suit notes, that didn’t stop Lewandowski from going on MSNBC in January and smearing her after she criticized the campaign on TV, saying she “came to the office on multiple occasions trying to get a job from the Trump Campaign, and when she wasn’t hired clearly she went off and was upset by that.”
And Lewandowski’s boss, the now presumptive GOP presidential nominee, went after Jacobus soon after, tweeting to his millions of followers that “@cherijacobus begged us for a job. We said no and she went hostile. A real dummy!”
In a later tweet, Trump again said she’d “begged” for work and they “turned her down twice.”
The strategist’s suit says she was defamed by their phony insistence she’d begged them for work and then turned on them when she didn’t get it.
In their late Monday filing, lawyers for team Trump said they didn’t do anything wrong.
Because Jacobus, a GOP political strategist, had said negative things about them in TV interviews, “any responsive opinions expressed by the defendants” about her motivations “are protected opinion speech in the heated national public debate that accompanies a presidential campaign, where the listening public anticipates fiery opinions, up-and-back-rhetoric, and hyperbole.”
And she might indeed have had a bias against the campaign, they claimed.
“It is indisputable that plaintiff’s motivations for criticizing the Trump campaign (and even labelling the campaign as liars) are uniquely within her own head. Any reflexive and responsive statements by defendants speculating about her motivations or biases can, therefore, only be opinion as well,” their filing says.
There “could have been an infinite array of possible motivations for plaintiff’s criticism of Mr. Trump and the Trump campaign.”
It also argues the statements were not defamation because of where they were made.
“Furthermore, the alleged defamatory statements were made via Twitter and on a morning talk show, which are both known as mediums for parties’ expressing their opinions,” their filing says.
Jacobus’ suit says the allegations harmed her personally and professionally — leading to fewer TV bookings and an onslaught of vicious online threats from Trump supporters.
Jacobus’ lawyer, Jay R. Butterman, said the focus by Trump’s attorneys on the “loser” and “major dummy” slams were a smokescreen designed to distract from what Trump and Lewandowski actually did to his client — falsely portray her as an unprofessional and vindictive spurned job applicant.
“It’s absolutely a red herring,” Butterman said. “They’re emphasizing these blunt attacks while ignoring the damaging statements regarding her professional ability — that she begged for a job.”
He noted one of the Trump tweets came after the campaign had been sent a cease and desist letter about the bogus claims.
“It is our opinion that Donald Trump’s motion to dismiss is a cowardly act of a man who, in repeating his libels against Ms. Jacobus after he received a cease and desist clearly explaining the falsity of his statements, dared her to sue him. Now, as Ms. Jacobus has bravely confronted Donald Trump and his smears, he hides behind technical arguments and claims that anything he says must be deemed merely his ‘opinion,’” Butterman said.
“He asks the courts to grant him the unique ability to intentionally and recklessly disregard the truth or falsity of his statements. Donald Trump, a shrill critic of our nation’s First Amendment rights, now cowers behind those very rights,” the lawyer said, adding that Trump’s “statements smearing Ms. Jacobus are clear and unquestionable claims of facts, which are just as clearly false and defamatory.”
(h/t New York Daily News)