Judge rejects Rep. Devin Nunes defamation suit against CNN

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Devin Nunes

FILE – In this Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, file photo, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., walks at the Capitol in Washington, as the House of Representatives pursues an article of impeachment against President Donald Trump for his role in inciting an angry mob to storm the Capitol last week. A defamation lawsuit Rep. Nunes brought against CNN was tossed out by a Manhattan judge on Friday, Feb. 19. The lawsuit seeking over $435 million in damages was rejected by U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain, who said the California Republican failed to request a retraction in a timely fashion or adequately state his claims. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — A defamation lawsuit U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes brought against CNN was tossed out by a Manhattan judge on Friday.

The lawsuit seeking over $435 million in damages was rejected by U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain, who said the California Republican failed to request a retraction in a timely fashion or adequately state his claims.

Nunes had alleged the cable news company intentionally published a false news article on Nov. 22, 2019 and engaged in a conspiracy to defame him and damage his personal and professional reputation.

The lawsuit said CNN published a report containing false claims that Nunes was involved in efforts to get “dirt” on then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.

Lawyers for Nunes said in court papers that CNN knew the statements made by Lev Parnas, and included in their report, were false.

Parnas, an associate of former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, has pleaded not guilty in Manhattan federal court to charges alleging he made illegal contributions to politicians he thought could aid his political and business interests. His trial is scheduled for October.

Parnas and another co-defendant worked with Giuliani to try to get Ukrainian officials to investigate Biden’s son, prosecutors said. Giuliani has said he knew nothing about the political contributions by the men. He has not been charged.

The Nunes lawsuit said Parnas was telling lies to try to get immunity.

“It was obvious to everyone — including disgraceful CNN — that Parnas was a fraudster and a hustler. It was obvious that his lies were part of a thinly-veiled attempt to obstruct justice,” the lawsuit said.

In court papers, CNN lawyers said Nunes and his staff had declined to comment prior to publication on whether Nunes had met with a Ukrainian prosecutor.

“Instead of denying the report before it was published, Rep. Nunes waited until it appeared and then filed this suit seeking more than $435 million in damages — labeling CNN ‘the mother of fake news,’” CNN lawyers wrote. “In his rush to sue, however, Rep. Nunes overlooked the need first to request a retraction.”

The lawyers noted that California law, which Swain said was appropriate for the case, requires that a retraction be demanded in writing within 20 days of the publication of a story.

Messages seeking comment were sent to lawyers for Nunes and CNN.

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