Mar 6, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump campaign sues CNN for libel over opinion article

Photo: John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Trump campaign announced Friday that it sued CNN for libel over an opinion article, saying it wants the network to be held "accountable for intentionally publishing false statements against" it.

The big picture: It's the latest of a series of libel suits by the campaign aimed at media outlets' opinion articles on issues linked to Russia. Over the last few weeks, the campaign has also sued the New York Times and the Washington Post, alleging similar motives.

  • While President Trump has often threatened to sue news organizations for libel, he has rarely followed through.
  • The efforts face a relatively high bar for proof compared to most lawsuits. In order for a public official to successfully sue for libel, they must be able to prove that the defendant acted with "actual malice."

The article named in the suit, written by CNN contributor Larry Noble and published in June, states that "the Trump 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."

  • That assertion is backed up earlier in the piece by citing a Trump interview last year with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, where Trump said he'd "want to hear" information offered on political opponents by a foreign government. His statement in that interview was also used to support an argument in one of the Post pieces that resulted in a lawsuit.
  • The CNN piece also cites an "Axios on HBO" interview with White House adviser Jared Kushner, who said that he doesn't know whether he'd call the FBI if he were to receive another email like the one before the campaign's Trump Tower meeting, which had the subject line: "Re: Russia - Clinton - private and confidential."

What they're saying:

  • Trump campaign senior legal adviser Jenna Ellis: "The campaign filed this lawsuit against CNN and the preceding suits against The New York Times and The Washington Post to hold the publishers accountable for their reckless false reporting and also to establish the truth: that the campaign did not have an agreement, quid pro quo, or collusion with Russia, as the Mueller Report concluded."
  • CNN declined to comment on the suit.

Read the lawsuit.

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