A defamation lawsuit brought against CNN by the California Republican Devin Nunes, a leading ally of former president Donald Trump, was tossed out by a Manhattan judge on Friday.
The lawsuit seeking more than $435m in damages was rejected by US district judge Laura Taylor Swain, who said Nunes failed to request a retraction in a timely fashion or adequately state his claims.
Nunes alleged the cable news company intentionally published a false news article and engaged in a conspiracy to defame him and damage his personal and professional reputation. His 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 CNN knew 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 making illegal contributions to politicians. His trial is scheduled for October.
Parnas and another 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 Ukraine affair led to Trump’s first impeachment, in which the Senate acquitted him in February last year. Trump was acquitted again last week, after being impeached a second time for inciting the Capitol riot.
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.
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, Representative Nunes waited until it appeared and then filed this suit seeking more than $435m in damages – labeling CNN ‘the mother of fake news’,” lawyers for CNN wrote. “In his rush to sue, however, Represenatative Nunes overlooked the need first to request a retraction.“
The lawyers noted that California law, which Judge 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.