The Volokh Conspiracy
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So held a New York appellate court Tuesday, upholding the lower court's dismissal of a lawsuit brought by Cheri Jacobus against President Trump. Here are the facts and alleged facts that led to the lawsuit, with the allegedly libelous statements at the end (drawn from the lower-court opinion):
Plaintiff is a "political strategist and public relations consultant" and a frequent commentator on television news channels and other media outlets, offering "political opinion and analysis from the Republican perspective." … On or about May 18, 2015, plaintiff received a message from … Jim Dornan, then working for the [Trump] campaign, asking if she would be interested in becoming the campaign's communications director. The following day, plaintiff met with Dornan and [then-campaign-manager Corey] Lewandowski, and according to plaintiff, they expressed interest in working with her, with Lewandowski asking for her salary requirements. Later that day, Dornan sent a message to plaintiff, stating that Lewandowski wanted to meet with her again. By email to Lewandowski, plaintiff provided her salary requirements and indicated her interest in a position with the campaign.
On June 9, 2015, plaintiff met with Dornan and Lewandowski for a second time. At this meeting, during a discussion about communications issues, [plaintiff alleges that] Lewandowski became agitated, loud, and rude, exclaiming that the FOX television network would do whatever the campaign wanted, and telling plaintiff that she had no idea how FOX works. As Lewandowski's agitation mounted, Dornan left the meeting, and, soon after, plaintiff also excused herself. According to plaintiff, she then decided that she could not work for Lewandowski, and shortly thereafter, in reply to a text from Dornan, advised him that working with Lewandowski would be too difficult. No further discussions about a position with the campaign were held with Lewandowski, or with Dornan, who subsequently stopped working for the campaign. Plaintiff pursued the position no further, nor was she offered it….
In the [following] months …, plaintiff frequently appeared on television as a commentator, and posted comments on social media sites, including Twitter, both defending and criticizing Trump. On January 26, 2016, plaintiff appeared on a CNN cable television show to discuss Trump's threat to boycott one of the Republican presidential primary debates unless FOX removed Megyn Kelly as a moderator. During her appearance, plaintiff characterized Trump as a "bad debater" and stated that he "comes off like a third grader faking his way through an oral report on current affairs" and was using the Megyn Kelly dispute with FOX as an excuse for avoiding the debate. The next day, during an on-air telephone call with the host of MSNBC's Morning Joe program, Lewandowski referenced plaintiff's comments about Trump, stating that "[t]his is the same person … who 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."
On February 2, 2016, plaintiff again appeared on CNN along with a Trump supporter to discuss Trump's claims that his campaign was self-funded and CNN's investigation finding that one-third of his campaign funds came from other sources. Plaintiff remarked on the show that "there had been a Trump Super PAC, [that] the campaign lied about it, and then shut it down," as was reported in the news. She also said that the campaign had approached several Republican billionaire donors, all of whom had declined to donate money to Trump.
Later that night, Trump posted the following on Twitter: "Great job on @donlemon tonight @kayleighmcenany @cherijacobus begged us for a job. We said no and she went hostile. A real dummy! @CNN." A day later, on February 3, 2016, plaintiff's then lawyer sent Trump a cease and desist letter. Two days after that, on February 5, 2016, Trump posted the following tweet about plaintiff: "Really dumb @CheriJacobus. Begged my people for a job. Turned her down twice and she went hostile. Major loser, zero credibility!"