US president Donald Trump exchanged insults on Tuesday with Stormy Daniels, the adult film actor who claims she had an affair with him in 2006.
Mr Trump disparaged the actor’s physical appearance, calling her “Horseface” in a tweet about a legal ruling in his favour on Monday.
In a reply, Daniels called the president “Tiny” and also, in an apparent reference to the Horseface taunt, made a quip about bestiality.
The slights between the two were exchanged after a federal judge on Monday dismissed a defamation lawsuit by Daniels against Mr Trump.
Daniels sued the president in April after he tweeted about a composite sketch of a man she says threatened her in 2011 to keep quiet about her alleged affair with Mr Trump. He called her claim that she had been threatened a “total con job” and said the sketch depicted “a non-existent man”.
The judge on Monday said Mr Trump’s tweet was a “hyperbolic statement” protected under the First Amendment.
In its decision on Monday, the court sided with Mr Trump’s lawyers’ argument that the tweet included an opinion, which the president was free to express.
"The court agrees with Mr Trump's argument because the tweet in question constitutes 'rhetorical hyperbole' normally associated with politics and public discourse in the United States, " Judge S James Otero wrote in his decision. "The First Amendment protects this type of rhetorical statement."
In response on Tuesday, Mr Trump tweeted: “Great, now I can go after Horseface and her 3rd rate lawyer.”
Daniels hit back, tweeting: “Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present your president. In addition to his...umm...shortcomings, he has demonstrated his incompetence, hatred of women and lack of self control on Twitter again!.”
Apparently referring to the Horseface taunt, she added: “And perhaps a penchant for bestiality. Game on, Tiny.”
Her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, also sharply criticised Mr Trump, calling him "a disgusting misogynist".
The defamation suit filed last April in federal court in Manhattan and later transferred to California at the request of Mr Trump's lawyers stands apart from Mr Avenatti's efforts to nullify the nondisclosure agreement that Daniels signed days before the 2016 election, agreeing to keep quiet about their alleged affair.
Mr Trump, whose statements about that nondisclosure agreement and the $130,000 (€112,341) payment that went along with it have changed over the course of the year, has denied there was an affair.
On Twitter on Monday, Mr Avenatti emphasised his continuing litigation relating to Mr Trump and his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, who in August pleaded guilty to multiple federal crimes and implicated the president in violating campaign-finance law.
“We will appeal the dismissal of the defamation cause of action and are confident in a reversal,” he wrote. He added, “There is something really rich in Trump relying on the First Amendment to justify defaming a woman.” – Agencies