Rep. Nunes Hits CNN With $435M Lawsuit Over “False & Defamatory” Story


California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes has just made his move against fake news media – in suing CNN for $435 MILLION over a “demonstrably false hit piece” they wrote about him before Thanksgiving.

The fake news story alleged that Nunes had gone to Vienna in 2018 to talk to a Ukrainian prosecutor in an attempt to dig up dirt on Joe Biden.

However, Nunes never even went to Vienna in the first place.

According to the lawsuit statement, Nunes claims that the CNN story was politically-motivated to make him, Republicans, and President Trump look bad,

“CNN harbors an institutional hatred, extreme bias, spite and ill-will towards Plaintiff, the GOP and President Trump, going back many years. CNN is notorious for making false claims about Republicans and publishing fake news that later has to be retracted.”

Check out the breaking news on Twitter: 

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Fox News has more details on Nunes' defamatory lawsuit against CNN:

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., sued CNN for defamation on Tuesday, accusing the cable network of publishing a “demonstrably false hit piece” about him amid his high-profile opposition to the Trump impeachment inquiry.

The 47-page lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, accuses the liberal network of publishing “numerous egregiously false and defamatory” statements about Nunes on Nov. 22, 2019 when journalist Vicky Ward reported claims that Nunes met with Ukranian prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, in Vienna in 2018 to dig "up dirt" on Hunter and Joe Biden.

Nunes, who has been leading GOP opposition to the House Democratic impeachment inquiry in the House Intelligence Committee, says he “did not go to Vienna or anywhere else in Austria in 2018” and “has never met” Shokin.

“CNN is the mother of fake news. It is the least trusted name. CNN is eroding the fabric of America, proselytizing, sowing distrust and disharmony. It must be held accountable,” the lawsuit, obtained by Fox News, states.

Nunes is seeking at least $435,350,000 in compensatory and punitive damages.

CNN did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“CNN is the mother of fake news. It is the least trusted name. CNN is eroding the fabric of America, proselytizing, sowing distrust and disharmony. It must be held accountable."

— Rep. Devin Nunes' lawsuit

The lawsuit mocks the “trusted” source of CNN’s story, Lev Parnas, a man recently indicted by the U.S. government and charged with multiple federal crimes. The CNN story said Parnas’ attorney told them his client was willing to tell Congress about Nunes’ travels. The suit includes a tweet sent by MSNBC justice and security analyst Matthew Miller, who publicly questioned Parnas’ credibility.

“It was obvious to everyone – including disgraceful CNN – that Parnas was a fraudster and a hustler,” the suit said. “It was obvious that his lies were part of a thinly-veiled attempt to obstruct justice and to trick either the United States Attorney or House Intelligence Committee Chairman, Adam Schiff into offering ‘immunity’ in return for information’ about [Nunes].”

Breitbart added:

House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) ranking member Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against CNN for a fake news story the outlet printed about him before Thanksgiving, revealing in the lawsuit that he was never as CNN alleged in Vienna in late 2018 and did not meet with the ousted Ukrainian prosecutor CNN alleged he met with there.

Nunes’s lawsuit includes revelations of key facts that undermine the case CNN made against him, severely harming the news outlet’s credibility. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Virginia, shows Nunes is seeking more than $435 million in damages from CNN over the fake news it printed against him. But more importantly, it demonstrates that Nunes was 100 percent correct when he told Breitbart News before Thanksgiving that CNN’s story was untrue–and that CNN was completely inaccurate in its reporting and had relied on a compromised source for its piece.

It remains to be seen how successful this lawsuit will be–it is very difficult for public figures to successfully sue media outlets because of a variety of protections the media are afforded–but the facts as laid out by Nunes and his attorney in this suit are particularly damning for CNN as Nunes and his team successfully demonstrate that the network engaged in printing and then disseminating demonstrably false information about him.

Back before Thanksgiving, CNN reported what would have been a big story if it were true.

“Exclusive: Giuliani associate willing to tell Congress Nunes met with ex-Ukrainian official to get dirt on Biden” was the headline on reporter Vicky Ward’s piece.

The piece opened with these explosive allegations:

A lawyer for an indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani told CNN that his client is willing to tell Congress about meetings the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee had in Vienna last year with a former Ukrainian prosecutor to discuss digging up dirt on Joe Biden.

The attorney, Joseph A. Bondy, represents Lev Parnas, the recently indicted Soviet-born American who worked with Giuliani to push claims of Democratic corruption in Ukraine. Bondy said that Parnas was told directly by the former Ukrainian official that he met last year in Vienna with Rep. Devin Nunes.

“Mr. Parnas learned from former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Victor Shokin that Nunes had met with Shokin in Vienna last December,” said Bondy.

The CNN piece followed a previous story from the Daily Beast’s Betsy Swan, which alleged that Nunes was in regular contact with Lev Parnas–the associate of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who has since been indicted on charges unrelated to the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into Trump.

As Breitbart News reported exclusively at the time, these stories were untrue. Nunes did not get into specifics on the facts with his original quote on them with Breitbart News, just stating that they were false and that he intended to sue both CNN and the Daily Beast.

“These demonstrably false and scandalous stories published by the Daily Beast and CNN are the perfect example of defamation and reckless disregard for the truth,” Nunes told Breitbart News after the publication of the CNN story. “Some political operative offered these fake stories to at least five different media outlets before finding someone irresponsible enough to publish them. I look forward to prosecuting these cases, including the media outlets, as well as the sources of their fake stories, to the fullest extent of the law. I intend to hold the Daily Beast and CNN accountable for their actions. They will find themselves in court soon after Thanksgiving.”

Some in media stuck to the CNN story, including especially CNN, arguing that Nunes had not factually debunked the fake news piece. For instance, Jon Ward of Yahoo News questioned Breitbart News’s reporting on this via Twitter, saying that Breitbart News had not offered evidence that the CNN story on Nunes was false:

For reference, here's an excerpt from the CNN story Nunes is suing them over:

A lawyer for an indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani told CNN that his client is willing to tell Congress about meetings the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee had in Vienna last year with a former Ukrainian prosecutor to discuss digging up dirt on Joe Biden.  

The attorney, Joseph A. Bondy, represents Lev Parnas, the recently indicted Soviet-born American who worked with Giuliani to push claims of Democratic corruption in Ukraine. Bondy said that Parnas was told directly by the former Ukrainian official that he met last year in Vienna with Rep. Devin Nunes.  

"Mr. Parnas learned from former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Victor Shokin that Nunes had met with Shokin in Vienna last December," said Bondy. 

Shokin was ousted from his position in 2016 after pressure from Western leaders, including then-vice president Biden, over concerns that Shokin was not pursuing corruption cases.  

Nunes is one of President Donald Trump's key allies in Congress and has emerged as a staunch defender of the President during the impeachment inquiry, which he has frequently labeled as a "circus." Nunes declined repeated requests for comment. 

After the story published, Nunes disputed CNN's report, telling far-right website Breitbart that it was "demonstrably false."

Giuliani made an appearance on Fox News on Saturday and, when asked about the CNN report, said he had no reason to doubt Nunes.

Bondy told CNN that his client and Nunes began communicating around the time of the Vienna trip. Parnas says he worked to put Nunes in touch with Ukrainians who could help Nunes dig up dirt on Biden and Democrats in Ukraine, according to Bondy. 

That information would likely be of great interest to House Democrats given its overlap with the current impeachment inquiry into President Trump, and could put Nunes in a difficult spot.

Bondy told CNN his client is willing to comply with a Congressional subpoena for documents and testimony as part of the impeachment inquiry in a manner that would allow him to protect his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.  

Bondy suggested in a tweet on Friday that he was already speaking to House Intel though the committee declined to comment.    

Giuliani has told CNN previously about his conversations with Shokin and  Parnas, saying that this was part of his legal work for his client, President Trump. Parnas' claims about Nunes' alleged involvement offers a new wrinkle and for the first time suggests the efforts to dig up dirt on the Bidens involved a member of Congress. 

Parnas' claim that Nunes met with Shokin, which had not been previously reported, adds further context to a Daily Beast report that Parnas helped arrange meetings and calls in Europe for Nunes last year, citing another Parnas' lawyer, Ed MacMahon.  

Those revelations came to a head on Thursday when Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell raised the Daily Beast story publicly during the impeachment hearing.

Parnas, who was indicted on federal campaign finance charges last month, worked with Shokin and Giuliani to push a pair of unfounded claims: that Ukrainians interfered in the 2016 election on behalf of Democrats, and that Biden was acting corruptly in Ukraine on behalf of his son Hunter, who sat on the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings.  

According to Bondy, Parnas claims Nunes worked to push similar allegations of Democratic corruption.

"Nunes had told Shokin of the urgent need to launch investigations into Burisma, Joe and Hunter Biden, and any purported Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election," Bondy told CNN. 

There is no evidence that the Bidens acted inappropriately. Nor is there evidence to support the conspiracy theory that Ukraine worked with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 election.  

Yet these claims have been a key part of the public defense of the President put forth by Nunes and other Republicans during the impeachment hearings this month. 

Parnas is currently under house arrest in Florida and has pleaded not guilty to charges of federal campaign finance fraud. 

Over the past two weeks, CNN approached Nunes on two occasions and reached out to his communications staff to get comment for this story.

In the Capitol on Nov. 14, as CNN began to ask a question about the trip to Vienna, Nunes interjected and said, "I don't talk to you in this lifetime or the next lifetime."

"At any time," Nunes added. "On any question."

Asked again on Thursday about his travel to Vienna and his interactions with Shokin and Parnas, Nunes gave a similar response.

"To be perfectly clear, I don't acknowledge any questions from you in this lifetime or the next lifetime," Nunes said while leaving the impeachment hearing. "I don't acknowledge any question from you ever."

CNN was unable to reach Shokin for comment. 

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