President Trump’s reelection campaign has filed its third defamation lawsuit against a major media outlet in less than two weeks. The news organization named in the latest libel suit is CNN. As with the previous lawsuits that we have written about, the claims of defamation stem from statements contained in an opinion piece concerning alleged cooperation between Russia and Trump to assist the latter’s presidential bid.
The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta, accuses CNN of publishing a libelous opinion piece on its website CNN.com in June 2019 the topic of which was Russia’s efforts to influence the United States presidential election in 2016. The author of the piece at issue, entitled “Soliciting dirt on your opponents from a foreign government is a crime. Mueller should have charged Trump campaign officials with it,” is Larry Noble, former general counsel for the Federal Election Commission and an outspoken campaign finance advocate.
The opinion editorial, which at the time of writing is still available on CNN’s website, contains a disclaimer that Noble is a CNN contributor but the commentary is solely his own opinion, though it is unclear whether this disclaimer appeared at the time the piece was originally published. The article focuses first on the 2016 election and laying out a case for Noble’s belief that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report did not exonerate President Trump from claims of collusion with Russia in that election. The article then shifts focus to the upcoming election and speculates about what role if any Russia will play in influencing the election. According to the complaint, in discussing the upcoming presidential election, Noble falsely claimed that the President’s reelection campaign “assessed the potential risks and benefits of again seeking Russia’s help in 2020 and has decided to leave that option on the table.”
A large portion of the complaint is dedicated to attempting to establish that CNN acted with actual malice in publishing Noble’s piece. The alleged evidence of this bias spans many pages and paragraphs in the complaint. According to the suit, there is “extensive evidence” that both CNN and Noble “are extremely biased against the Campaign.” Continue reading ›