Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) told Breitbart News that demonstrably fake news MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow published against him earlier this year is putting him, his family, and his staff in danger from people who believe the inaccurate allegations.
Nunes, who this past week filed a defamation lawsuit against Maddow, joined Breitbart News Saturday on SiriusXM 125 the Patriot Channel this weekend to explain the lawsuit but also his broader efforts to combat weaponized misinformation from the fake news establishment media — which Nunes has been leading on with novel tactics of dealing with the media and a lawsuit strategy of exposing fake news. Nunes said Republicans need to fight back, and hard, because the media has gone way too far way too many times.
“It shouldn’t be this way. It’s not just me. It’s not just Donald Trump. Think about what we had to watch with Brett Kavanaugh,” Nunes said. “Brett Kavanaugh for all — you probably know better than I do, I didn’t really know him — but he seemed kind of like a Washington, D.C., insider guy and seemed like he was a goody two shoes kind of guy following all the steps and was a basketball coach… whatever a good guy and they went after him and completely destroyed him. Yeah, he’s on the Supreme Court and he got through but now forever — just like Clarence Thomas — they destroyed these guys where you’re going to have half the country who’s going to hate Kavanaugh, a Supreme Court justice. Half the country is going to hate Clarence Thomas. It’s just wrong. You can’t just make stuff up out of thin air and smear people because they’re elected officials and public figures.”
The latest lawsuit stems from Maddow this Spring claiming Nunes received a package from a Russia-connected Ukrainian under sanctions from the United States, a man named Andriy Derkach, and inaccurately claiming Nunes hid this from the FBI. Specifically, Maddow plainly stated on her program: “He [Nunes] has refused to show the contents of the package to other members of the intelligence community. 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.”
These statements from Maddow are false, as previous reporting from Breitbart News, Politico, the Federalist, and other outlets make clear. Not only did Nunes proactively provide all of this to federal law enforcement, his new lawsuit against Maddow reveals he disclosed it all in a letter to then-Attorney General Bill Barr at the time. Maddow, however, refuses to withdraw her false and inaccurate claims against Nunes. So, Nunes is suing NBCUniversal, the parent company of MSNBC, for damages and a demand for a retraction and apology. The lawsuit, the latest in a long line of them Nunes has filed against establishment media corporations for fake news they have printed against him, was filed in federal court in Texas last week. Nunes discussed this case and his broader legal strategy on Breitbart News Saturday this weekend.
“It starts with two years ago I publicly stated on the record in numerous places to whoever would listen that I would not take fake news anymore. So, if you cross the line and you defame or slander me, then I am going to bring lawsuits and you can come to federal court and come into federal court and explain yourself because, of course, for the last five years I’ve been getting slandered left and right and as a public figure there’s a very high bar, unfortunately, because of this decision New York Times v. Sullivan which dates back to the 1960s,” Nunes said.
“We won’t go there, but the bottom line is I said ‘look, I’m done. We’ll meet you in court.’ The surprising thing is that none of these entities I’ve sued want to meet me in court. They do everything they can to avoid getting to court. They transfer, they move venues, they declare bankruptcy; they do all sorts of things, and you would think if I’m such a bad person and you know all these bad things about me, why would you not want to get me into discovery so I’d have to give up all this information? So, look, the bottom line is with Maddow and MSNBC, what was going on is they were consistently doing what I would say is quasi-fake news, knifing me in the back as it related to the Russia hoax, and it was always silly stuff like ‘are they working for Russians? They must be part of Putin’s team—what’s going on?’ That kind of stuff. But they crossed over the line out of nowhere, and Breitbart I think did a story on this last Fall or wintertime at some point, I forget the date, but in the springtime Maddow out of nowhere — we don’t even know where this came from — just went out and accused me of having meetings with Russians and accepting packages from some guy named Derkach and then [she said] I refused to turn it over to the FBI,” Nunes went on.
“Well, the truth is it was the House Republicans on the Intelligence Committee that actually were running an investigation into Russia and Ukraine and we actually warned the Department of Justice, the Criminal Division, of this and we were the ones that turned it over to the FBI. If it wasn’t for us the FBI wouldn’t even have known about it. You guys at Breitbart had the story right. You, Politico, and a couple other outfits actually had the true story,” he continued. “So fast forward four or five months later, out of nowhere she just decides to take a cheap shot at me and say I’m mysteriously hiding things from the FBI. I don’t even know where the hell she got it from because there were already multiple stories that said the opposite. So, anyway, we asked for a retraction in March, April, they didn’t do it, and so now we’re suing. If she’s got evidence that I’m some kind of secret Russian agent working with them and obstructing justice and not cooperating with the FBI and a traitor to my own country, she will be able to present that in court. So, we’ll see. We’ll see what happens, but you guys had the story right from the beginning.”
Nunes said that Maddow and NBC could have avoided this litigation had they just corrected their mistake and retracted and apologized for the inaccurate claims. But, instead of adhering to standards of journalistic integrity, Nunes said Maddow and NBC decided to keep the false claims out there — something he asserts puts him, his family, and his staff in danger.
“All they had to do was publicly tweet out, at the time, tweet out ‘hey we apologize, we got this story wrong,’ and then she should have went on the air and said ‘hey I ran a story last week or whatever and we apologize to Devin Nunes.’ Right? That’s all they had to do,” Nunes said. “But now they let it stay out there, let it stay out there and look this is the problem with his—there are people out there, millions of Americans, who believe this crap. It creates a scenario where it puts me, my family, and my staff in danger because you get these crazed lunatics out there who believe I’m some sort of Russian agent and a traitor so you never know—people just might out of the blue think that they might run up and shoot somebody because they believe this stuff. I mean, this is serious stuff. They run that and then I start getting death threats, right? So, this is not some joke. She may think it’s a joke. But we don’t even know where the hell this came from because it’s so asinine.”
Nunes further explained that the fallacy Maddow published does not hold up under even the lightest scrutiny.
“Think about the fact that — you must know this, you’ve covered Washington, D.C., for a long time — first of all, nothing gets to a congressional office without going through all sorts of protocol,” Nunes said. “I’m just talking about an average citizen that sends something in, just because of the Anthrax scares and all of that right? You can imagine the protocol that we have at the House Intelligence Committee especially if it’s somebody from a foreign country. For it to get to my desk… as a matter of fact, I can’t remember in my over a decade on the House Intelligence Committee and for a long time being the top Republican, I can’t remember a time or a place where I even read something or got anything from a foreigner, any sort of a package at all. It just doesn’t happen, because if some foreigner is sending something to the House Intelligence Committee, all sorts of alarm bells would go off. Furthermore, this one was really interesting because we actually opened an investigation on this because we were getting fake news contacts about a package from some Ukrainian with ties to Russians. So we were actually on the lookout for it and when we got it we actually referred it to the attorney general and the DOJ and we followed the normal protocols. You, Breitbart, Politico, everybody else had the true story. So, how does Maddow four or five months later concoct this up? Are you on some kind of drugs? Are you hallucinating? Why do you wake up one morning and decide ‘oh I’m going to go on national television and accuse Devin Nunes of being a traitor and obstructing justice’? How does one do that? It’s unfathomable.”
Nunes said he hopes that eventually these establishment media outlets regularly printing fake news are held accountable because the consequences otherwise are severe.
“I just hope eventually we’re going to get to a point in this country where these — I hope that all news agencies are held accountable,” Nunes said. “You know better than anybody when Breitbart gets one thing wrong, they go after you. These mainstream media places, they just make stuff up out of thin air and these have serious repercussions when you do this to somebody. This is not some joke. When you accuse somebody of being a traitor, obstructing justice, and colluding with Russians people may laugh and you and I can laugh about it, but this is no joke you put people in serious danger. I wonder how many average Americans out there think ‘oh my God there’s a congressman who believes this? He’s colluding with Russian agents!’ It’s a serious, serious charge and it spins people up and makes them go crazy, and puts people in danger.”
Part of the reason why these establishment media outlets target Nunes and people like him, he said, is because of his effectiveness in debunking the false claims that now former President Donald Trump colluded with Russians to influence the 2016 presidential election. But, he added, this latest false smear by Maddow was particularly interesting in that it came after Trump was already out of office — and seemingly out of nowhere.
“For four years straight they did it,” Nunes said. “This one is a little odd in that in March in the springtime Trump’s already out of office then out of the blue — this is the number one cable news show, it competes with Tucker Carlson and Hannity for being the number one show and sometimes she has the top ratings — what on God’s green earth, why did she wake up that morning of all mornings and decide ‘I’m just going to randomly go out and accuse Devin Nunes of being a traitor and working with Russian agents’ when they didn’t call us, they didn’t ask — nothing.”
He added later in the interview, too, that he understands why the establishment media dislikes him.
“I get why they don’t like me,” Nunes said. “They don’t like me because we outed their corruption of working with Democrats and working with Russians, by the way, and working with Russian operatives taking Russian dirt and taking it to the FBI and smearing Donald Trump and smearing Republicans. They don’t let it die. I don’t know what goes through one’s mind — and I know I’m being repetitive here with Maddow — but what on earth made her concoct that story in the spring of this year? Like what runs through one’s mind? Did you just get drunk the night before and say ‘I’m really going to stick it to the Republicans tomorrow’? What were you thinking? I get why some of the stuff they’ve done — I don’t get it, I think it’s wrong and corrupt like they wanted to turn Trump into a Russian agent because they wanted to dirty him up. But this one is just bizarre.”
Nunes also asked if Google is still diminishing search results Breitbart News content, to which this reporter confirmed the tech giant is — but overall Big Tech is failing to stop Breitbart News despite censorship efforts against conservatives as evidenced by the last quarter of Facebook performance where Breitbart News accumulated more interactions than most establishment media outlets like the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times combined.
“That’s amazing, even with all the algorithms and everything they’re trying to do, it shows you conservatives — they want real news,” Nunes said when informed of the latest statistics. “That’s a testament to the work the very few, I would say, independent conservative news outlets there are. I used to say 90-10, but I think it’s 95-5 — 95 percent of these guys are like Maddow and MSNBC and just pure fake news propagandists for the left. Then you take the Breitbarts and the Federalists and the American Greatnesses — there’s very few of you. But the fact is I’ll take you guys any day of the week because you guys actually do real investigative reporting. I think that’s a testament. That’s why you’re getting more interactions on Facebook and Instagram where there already are algorithms that don’t allow you to be seen but you’re getting more interactions because people will interact if you’re actually doing real investigative work. I think people appreciate it.”
Nunes’s decision to completely cut off the establishment media is a model for Republican lawmakers and candidates nationwide, and he urged his colleagues to follow his example.
“The bottom line is we don’t talk to fake news,” Nunes said. “So, if you’ve done things — I tell a lot of these reporters — and now they don’t even hardly come up to me anymore, but I said until you retract all your fake news stories and apologize I’m not going to talk to you. I’m not acknowledging you because you can’t say, they’ll come up to you and say ‘Congressman, when are you going to stop killing kittens?’ They’re all loaded questions all the time. So you have to say ‘I don’t acknowledge any question.’ Because if not they’ll say ‘oh, Nunes refused to respond if he’s a Russian agent.’ So you have to actually say ‘I don’t acknowledge you and I’m not acknowledging any question you’re asking.’ You have to say it loud and then what I’ll do too is I’ll pull out my phone if they get really obnoxious and record them so there’s a recording of me saying ‘I’m not acknowledging you,’ a video recording. So my advice has always been to these members of Congress has been ‘look if these news outlets are going to keep writing fake news on behalf of the Democratic Party, you might as well just walk in and sit down with Fusion GPS and Perkins Coie and all the Democratic law firms that they have, and sit down for a deposition with them and let them spin up a dossier on you and feed it to the media because that’s what you’re doing because all you’re doing is feeding the beast if you talk to them.’”
Nunes gave specific instructions, too, for how Republicans can fight back against this.
“You can’t say ‘no comment.’ You have to say ‘I don’t acknowledge you as a news outlet and I don’t listen to any question you’re actually stating,’” Nunes said. “I think that’s the real key. Look, maybe it just has to be for a lot of these members, until you’ve gone through it like I have with my team, fake news story after fake news story after fake news story, you can only get hit across the head so many times before you wake up and figure out that none of this is worth it and you’re contributing to your own demise. I’ve taken a step further too in that if they cross the line into defamation and slander, I’m taking them to court. It’s been amazing to watch because every single one of these cases they never argue on the merits. They always argue on technicalities. They never take me up because why wouldn’t you take the chance? Like Rachel Maddow — you just accused me of being a Russian agent and obstructing justice. These are serious charges — treason. So, wouldn’t you say ‘sure let’s get in discovery right away’? You could just destroy me, right, if I am really a Russian agent like you told your millions of viewers? But it’s funny watching all these companies — they’re big and bad but when you take them to court they run. They run for the hills. So, hopefully — we’re very, very hopeful that some of these judges will, and the Supreme Court — a lot of people are starting to recognize this, but hopefully these cases I’m filing will make it through and we can turn the page to a lighter side of American history because we’ve been in a very dark time and it’s because, there’s a lot of reasons, but I think the primary reason is the fake news is weaponized. It’s weaponized propaganda. I think that if we don’t turn the page — the only one going to be able to do it are the courts.”
LISTEN TO REP. DEVIN NUNES ON BREITBART NEWS SATURDAY: