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January 10, 2017
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A New York judge ruled Tuesday that while Donald Trump's limited vocabulary was used to make demeaning comments about a GOP political consultant on Twitter, what he said did not veer into defamation territory.

Cheri Jacobus filed a $4 million suit against Trump in April, saying her business was harmed after Trump tweeted negative things about her. Jacobus was briefly engaged in talks with the Trump campaign, but never signed on to work with the team, and later publicly spoke about the race. On Feb. 5, Trump blasted Jacobus, calling her "really dumb." He said she went "hostile" after he "turned her down twice," and ended his tweet on a high note: "Major loser, zero credibility!"

Judge Barbara Jaffe ruled that Trump's tweets were opinion, and could not be measured as factual. It was important to take into context the "heated rhetoric" during a "particularly raucous Republican primary," she wrote in a 20-page ruling, and acknowledged that "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." She minced no words when it came time to describe Trump's greatest hits of Twitter burns, calling his constant use of "loser," "total loser," and "totally biased loser" a sign his account is "rife with vague and simplistic insults."

Jay Butterman, an attorney for Jacobus, said the ruling gave Trump — who as of Election Day had 75 lawsuits open — a "free pass to trample on the rights of free speech of any critic," and will be appealed. "[This is] a say day for free speech, a sad day for freedom of the press, and a sad day for democracy," he told USA Today. Catherine Garcia