CNN Analyst Implies Stormy Daniels’ Porn Career May Not Help Defamation Case

CNN legal analyst Paul Callan implied Monday night that adult film actress Stormy Daniels would have a hard time convincing a jury that President Donald Trump had caused substantial damages as a result of his alleged defamation of her, given her career.

Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, sued Trump for defamation on Monday over his comment about a sketch artist’s version of a man Daniels said threatened her to keep quiet about her alleged affair with Trump. The sketch, Trump said, was of a “nonexistent man.”

Callan wondered aloud to CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, whether Daniels would be able to prove that Trump’s alleged defamation incurred special damages.

“Are you arguing that just because somebody is in adult film, that they cannot be defamed?” Cooper asked the analyst.

“Anderson, I’ve tried a lot of cases through the years, and as a matter of principle, you’re probably right, somebody who’s made 500 pornographic films can be defamed in theory,” Callan responded. “But you put 12 ordinary people on a jury and say to them, ‘award her money because somebody called her a liar,’ I think you’d have a hard time getting a substantial damage award.”

He said a jury might give Daniels a “symbolic award”— $1 in damages, for example — but added that “actual damages justifying all of the effort that’s gone into this lawsuit, I don’t see it, which means the lawsuit is a publicity lawsuit and a publicity stunt.”

“If I had a dollar,” Avenatti replied, “for every time a guy that was unprepared to talk about something actually told me it was a publicity stunt or we weren’t going to prevail, I wouldn’t be sitting here right now, I’d be on my own private island.” 

In a statement to TPM Wednesday, Callan said he stood by Monday’s comments, which he said were “deliberately mischaracterized” by Avenatti but which “reflect my pragmatic evaluation of how an ordinary jurors would likely respond to the case.”

“Unfortunately we will never know the answer to this question as the federal court will undoubtedly dismiss the case on motion of the defense,” Callan added. “The law says an expression of opinion cannot be defamatory and the Stormy case clearly involves an expression of opinion. It’s quite similar to Avenatti referring to the people who work for Trump as ‘morons.’ That’s the law whether you like the President or despise him. I like to stick to the law in my commentary.”

Watch below via CNN:

This post has been updated.

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