Former President Donald Trump is suing CNN in a $475 million defamation lawsuit, according to a complaint filed in federal court on Monday.
The lawsuit focuses on the network’s characterization of Trump as being a “racist,” “Russian lackey,” “insurrectionist,” and its “persistent association” of Trump to Adolf Hitler and Nazism.
“[T]he time has finally come to hold CNN responsible and legally accountable for their willful deception and defamatory statements made about me and both, directly and indirectly, my strong, devoted, and patriotic supporters,” Trump said in a statement released shortly after his attorneys filed the lawsuit.
Pres. Donald Trump's statement regarding his lawsuit against CNN.
— Daniel Baldwin (@baldwin_daniel_) October 3, 2022
Trump accused CNN of using its “massive influence—purportedly as a “trusted” news source—to defame the Plaintiff in the minds of its viewers and readers for the purpose of defeating him politically,” according to the complaint.
— Ron Filipkowski 🇺 (@RonFilipkowski) October 3, 2022
The complaint continued:
CNN’s campaign of dissuasion in the form of libel and slander against the Plaintiff has only escalated in recent months as CNN fears the Plaintiff will run for president in 2024. As a part of its concerted effort to tilt the political balance to the Left, CNN has tried to taint the Plaintiff with a series of ever-more scandalous, false, and defamatory labels of “racist,” “Russian lackey,” “insurrectionist,” and ultimately “Hitler.”
Trump’s lawsuit points to several examples of CNN likening Trump to Hitler, notably over the network’s use of the phrase the “Big Lie,” which refers to Trump’s claims that the 2020 presidential election was rigged.
As Trump’s complaint noted, “The ‘Big Lie’ is a direct reference to a tactic employed by Adolf Hitler and appearing in Hitler’s Mein Kampf.”
“The ‘Big Lie’ was used by Hitler to incite hatred of the Jews and to convince people to ostracize Jewish people,” the complaint continued. “It was an entire propaganda campaign to justify Jewish persecution and genocide. The phrase is not taken lightly and is not bandied about blithely. CNN anchors and commentators understand this.”
Trump’s complaint included a request for $75,000 in compensatory damages for the harm CNN has caused to his reputation and $475 million in punitive damages.
Although public officials suing for defamation must prove that a journalist acted with actual malice or reckless disregard for the truth, CNN settled a $275 million defamation lawsuit with Covington Catholic graduate Nick Sandmann in 2020.
Trump’s lawsuit against CNN is not the only corporate media outlet he plans to sue.
“In the coming weeks and months we will also be filing lawsuits against a large number of other Fake News Media Companies for their lies, defamation, and wrongdoing, including as it pertains to ‘The Big Lie,’ that they used so often in reference to their disinformation attack on Presidential Election of 2020,” Trump said in his statement.
Trump also mentioned he “may bring appropriate action” against the January 6 Committee for its failure “to investigate the massive Presidential Election Fraud which took place.”
Trump faulted the January 6 Committee for failing to acknowledge that in the days leading up to the Capitol riots, he “recommended and authorized thousands of troops to be deployed to ensure that there was peace, safety, and security at the Capitol and throughout the Country.”
“I am proud to file today’s lawsuit in order to begin the process of standing up to Fake News and the Mainstream Media,” Trump concluded.
The case is Trump v. CNN, No. 0:22-cv-61842, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.