Donald Trump’s libel lawsuit against CNN is dismissed by federal judge
Donald Trump’s libel lawsuit against CNN was dismissed by a federal judge on Thursday, ending the president’s legal battle over an op-ed published in 2019.
The president’s team alleged the network maliciously published an op-ed piece on 13 June, 2019, by Larry Noble that claimed “the Trump campaign assessed the potential risks and benefits of again seeking Russia’s help in 2020 and has decided to leave that option on the table.”
The opinion piece was written in the aftermath of Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s connections with Russia.
Following the publication of the article, the Trump team filed a lawsuit in March as one of its different litigation routes against multiple media companies.
In the lawsuit, which was filed in Georgia where CNN is headquartered, Mr Trump’s lawyers said that the news organisation published the op-ed with the knowledge the information in it was false. The decision to publish the piece, the lawyers said, was an act of gross negligence and libel against the sitting president.
The Trump campaign sought “millions of dollars” through litigation.
US District Judge Michael L Brown, who was appointed by the president, disagreed and ruled the Trump team has yet to provide proof CNN intended actual malice against the president in publishing the article.
“The Court grants Defendants’ motion and dismisses Plaintiff’s complaint for failing sufficiently to plead malice. The Court, however, allows Plaintiff the opportunity to file an amended complaint,” Judge Brown wrote.
The judge rejected CNN’s claim, though, that Mr Nobel’s piece was not actionable to libel because it was a statement of opinion versus a fact.
“His opinion lies on both sides with the Statement as a factual allegation bringing them together,” he wrote. “The context of the Statement (both in the article and in Mr. Noble’s discussion of current events) suggest to readers that the Statement is a statement of fact, not opinion.”
Now Mr Trump’s lawyers have until the end of the month to file an amended complaint if they want to proceed with the lawsuit.
Reference: Independent: Danielle Zoellner