Trump 2020 campaign sues CNN for libel over opinion article
President Donald Trump gets into an exchange with CNN reporter Jim Acosta during a news conference a day after the midterm elections on November 7, 2018 in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC.
Al Drago | Getty Images
President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign sued CNN on Friday for libel, following similar lawsuits against The New York Times and The Washington Post.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia where CNN has its headquarters, cited a June opinion article written by Larry Noble, a former Federal Election Commission general counsel.
Noble argued in the article that former special counsel Robert Mueller should have charged the president for soliciting help from Russia in his 2016 campaign. Noble also wrote that the 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.”
In a statement announcing the suit, Trump campaign senior legal advisor Jenna Ellis called that claim “100 percent false and defamatory.”
The Trump campaign lawsuit says that there is “extensive evidence” of bias against the president from both Noble and CNN. The suit claims that the president’s legal team asked CNN to retract the article in February, and that CNN declined to do so.
“Noble has written numerous articles accusing the President of criminal activity, and of campaign finance and ethics violations, and has lodged a complaint against a Super-PAC which supports the President,” the complaint reads. “CNN clearly had a malicious motive in publishing the Defamatory Article, and acted with reckless disregard for the truth.”
A spokesperson for CNN declined to comment.
The Trump campaign in recent weeks has filed similar lawsuits against The New York Times and The Washington Post over alleged defamation contained in opinion articles. All three lawsuits claim damages worth millions of dollars.
Generally speaking, it is more difficult to succeed in libel suits when the allegedly libelous statements are presented as opinions, rather than facts.
Trump has had a combative relationship with the press, which he has dubbed the “enemy of the people.” In 2018, the White House yanked the press pass of CNN reporter Jim Acosta, sparking a legal fight that ultimately ended when the administration relented and restored Acosta’s credential.
Ellis, the Trump campaign advisor, said the new lawsuits against the media companies were meant “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, a 24-hour news network and digital media company, is a subsidiary of WarnerMedia, whose parent is AT&T. It is based in Atlanta.