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Verdicts & Settlements

Federal Judge Dismisses California Rep. Devin Nunes’s Lawsuit Against The Washington Post

— January 1, 2021

Nunes, interestingly enough, never actually contested The Washington Post’s version of events.

A federal judge had dismissed a defamation suit filed by California Rep. Devin Nunes against The Washington Post.

Nunes, says The Fresno Bee, filed his first lawsuit against the Post in December 2019.

In his complaint, Nunes claimed that the Post had defamed him in an article published earlier the same month. There, a Post reporter alleged that Nunes had informed President Donald Trump about a House Intelligence Committee briefing, wherein a report stated that the Russian government preferred Trump’s victory over Joe Biden in the November election.

Nunes quickly claimed defamation, accusing the Post of colluding with congressional Democrats to malign himself and President Trump.

To make himself whole, Nunes requested the court award him a quarter-billion dollars in compensatory damages, along with a further $350,000 in punitive damages.

But on Christmas Eve, Judge Ahmit P. Mehta of U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed the lawsuit in its entirety, finding that Nunes provided no evidence to suggest defamation.

Wooden gavel on black, reflective surface; image via, CCO.
Wooden gavel on black, reflective surface; image via, CCO.

According to The Fresno Bee, Mehta’s decision essentially stated that Nunes did not, in the course of his lawsuit, ever contest the Washington Post’s core claim—that Nunes had, in fact, informed President Trump of the House Intelligence Committee’s findings.

Since Nunes did not challenge the Post’s narrative, Mehta said the California Republican was, more or less, accusing the Post of defamation-by-implication.

Even if that were the case, though, Mehta opined that Nunes’s lawsuit did not meet the necessary standard to hold the Post accountable. That’s largely due to Nunes being a politician—as a public figure, he would have to prove that the Washington Post had acted with malice in publishing potentially nonfactual information about him.

“Even if the court were to treat [Nunes’s] claims as straightforward defamation claims, the Post argues that the [defamation charge] should be dismissed for an independent reason: The Complaint does not plausibly allege that [The Washington Post] acted with ‘actual malice,’” Mehta wrote. “The court agrees.”

Mehta also denied a request made by Nunes’s attorneys to amend and continue the lawsuit with new charges.

Nunes, notes The Hill, has filed numerous lawsuits against media outlets and pundits. In recent years, Rep. Nunes has targeted CNN, Esquire, and Twitter. In one particularly comical case, a federal judge was forced to rule that Nunes could not sue Twitter for publishing posts made by the satirical accounts “Devin Nunes’ Mom” and “Devin Nunes’ Cow.”


Devin Nunes Loses Lawsuit Accusing The Washington Post of Conspiring with House Democrats to Defame Him

Federal judge dismisses Devin Nunes’ first lawsuit against The Washington Post

Judge dismisses Nunes’s defamation suit against Washington Post

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