By Joe Simonson
A New York appeals court ruled that you cannot collect damages for defamation if President Donald Trump insults you over Twitter.
The decision was made after Republican strategist Cheryl Jacobus accused the president of sending a “virtual mob” to attack her after she went on national television and questioned whether he was fit for office. In response, Trump called her a “real dummy!”, “major loser” and claimed she “begged” him for a job on his campaign, despite her insistences that she didn’t.
Jacobus was seeking $4 million in damages against Trump. Her lawyer, Jay Butterman, said Tuesday was “not a happy day for democracy”.
A five-judge panel reached the verdict Tuesday in Manhattan, agreeing with New York Judge Barbara Jaffe who defended Trump’s “intemperate tweets” as protected by the First Amendment, despite chastising them as intending to “belittle and demean.”
The appeals court wrote that Trump’s tweets were “too vague, subjective and lacking precise meaning” to qualify as defamatory and were protected speech.
Tuesday’s decision will likely give comfort to the president’s legal team, who are currently fighting a different lawsuit from a former “The Apprentice” contestant who contends that a tweet calling her sexual assault allegation a lie also qualifies as defamation.