(USA Features) A Republican lawmaker who was among those most vigorously investigating Democrats’ mishandling of classified information has filed a lawsuit against MSNBC on the grounds that he was defamed by host Rachel Maddow.
On Tuesday, House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes filed a civil action against NBCUniversal alleging that Maddow made claims suggesting the California Republican failed to turn over a package he got from a Ukranian lawmaker who is pro-Russia in late 2019.
“How do Republicans keep Devin Nunes on as the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee given his unexplained interactions with Andriy Derkach?” the Maddow show’s official account tweeted at the time.
How do Republicans keep Devin Nunes on as the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee given his unexplained interactions with Andriy Derkach? pic.twitter.com/d9wKsrJVAe
— Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) March 19, 2021
“Congressman Nunes has refused to answer questions about what he received from Andriy Derkach. He has refused to show the contents of the package to other members of the intelligence community,” Maddow went on to tell her viewers.
“He has refused to hand it over to the FBI, which is what you should do if you get something from somebody who is sanctioned by the U.S. as a Russian agent,” she added.
But in a 17-page court filing, Nunes says that Maddow was aware he turned over the package in question to the FBI and went on to alert then-Attorney General William Barr.
Nevertheless, he argues, Maddow went ahead and ran with her segment without asking him to comment.
These “statements were a product of Maddow’s imagination,” said his lawyers, Madhu S. Sekharan and Steven S. Biss. “She made them up out of whole cloth in order to impute intentional wrongdoing to” Nunes.
“Although Maddow made it appear as if she had direct knowledge of facts, she did not have one shred of evidence to support the statements,” the attorneys added.
“The statements falsely accuse [Nunes] of criminal conduct (obstruction of justice and treason), serious breaches of the Code of Conduct and violations of protocols concerning the handling of information that comes to the House Intelligence Committee from foreign sources such as Derkach, concealment and deception, lack of integrity and ethical improprieties,” the lawyers continued.
They also said that Maddow aired the allegations because “MSNBC and Maddow harbor an institutional hostility, hatred, extreme bias, spite and ill-will towards plaintiff due to plaintiff’s emergence as the most prominent skeptic in Congress of Maddow’s marquee news narrative from 2017 to 2019: that the Trump campaign colluded with Russians to hack the 2016 presidential elections.”
It’s likely Nunes will face a struggle in his case because one judge has already ruled that Maddow’s viewers know that statements she makes on her program may not be “fact.”
The Nunes segment aired on the March 18, 2021, episode of MSNBC’s top-rated program, the “Rachel Maddow Show.”