(USA Features) House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes won a major court victory in his defamation lawsuit against the Washington Post last week, with a federal judge ruling that it could proceed on the merits of the case.
The California Republican who played a major role in unraveling the bogus Russian collusion investigation filed a suit earlier this year against the paper for false reporting involving him.
A federal judge ruled that though there is not enough evidence to indicate the Post acted negligently when the paper falsely reported that Nunes advocated former President Donald Trump’s claim Trump Tower in New York City was wiretapped during the Obama administration, there is still enough evidence of actual malice to move forward.
U.S. District Judge Carl J. Nichols in Washington DC ruled the case could proceed for defamation because the paper reported falsely in November that Nunes was responsible for spreading Trump’s wiretap claims and that he went to the White House late one night during Trump’s tenure to find the evidence to prove it.
Neither of those claims by the Post were true.
“Taken as a whole, the article says (or at least a reasonable juror could understand the article to say) that Nunes had made baseless claims about spying on Trump Tower and then visited the White House to inspect documents that might support those baseless claims,” Nichols wrote.
“And a reasonable juror could conclude that an elected official is ridiculous or unfit for office if he searched for evidence to support baseless claims,” he further noted.
Nichols, who was appointed to the federal bench by Trump, based a portion of his ruling on a March 2017 story where the Post accurately said that Nunes had pushed back on the Trump Tower wiretapping claim. He said the Post should have consulted its own article before reporting a false claim three years hence.
“In the article at issue here, the Post reported that Nunes made that baseless claim himself,” Nichols noted.
“A newspaper’s own prior (and correct) reporting that is inconsistent with its later (and incorrect) reporting could certainly give the paper reason to seriously doubt the truth of its later publication,” he added.
The judge said that false claim was enough to meet the legal bar of actual malice, which is the standard of defamation for a public figure like the California lawmaker.
“For now, he has sufficiently pleaded that, in November 2020, the Post published its article with at least reckless disregard of the truth that it had previously reported,” the court noted.
The ruling gives Nunes, who has been challenging media outlets for their inaccurate stories, can now proceed to discovery and take depositions from reporters and editors at the Washington Post, which is owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
Nunes hailed the decision on Sunday.
“The Washington Post, like the rest of the fake news outlets, has to be held accountable for deliberately spreading false stories and smearing people for political purposes,” he told Just the News. “Now they’ll have an opportunity to show in court how they compiled this article and what journalistic ethics they violated in doing so.”