Less than a month after Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) filed a defamation lawsuit against Twitter and two parody accounts, including one alleging to be the congressman’s cow, Nunes has filed another defamation suit — this time against The McClatchy Co. and a Republican strategist for news reports that he claimed besmirched his reputation.
Nunes’ $150 million lawsuit was filed in Virginia state court on Monday, Fox News reported. The complaint took specific aim at a report published in May by the McClatchy-owned Fresno Bee in California about a 2016 lawsuit against Alpha Omega Winery in Napa Valley. Alpha Omega had auctioned off a yacht party that allegedly involved cocaine and prostitutes, the Bee reported, noting also that Nunes had been a longtime investor in the winery.
The suit accuses McClatchy and its reporters, as well as political strategist Liz Mair, of conspiring to “destroy” the congressman’s reputation and interfere with his oversight work into the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election as a member of the House Intelligence Committee, according to Fox News.
The defendants, Nunes alleged, had created a misleading impression that he had been directly involved in the yacht party.
“The purpose of the concerted defamation campaign was to cause immense pain, intimidate, interfere with and divert Nunes’ attention from his investigation of corruption and alleged Russian [election meddling],” the suit said, adding that the “attacks on Nunes” were “pre-planned, calculated [and] orchestrated.”
“The full scope of the conspiracy, including the names of all participants and the level of involvement of any agents or instrumentalities of foreign governments, is unknown at this time and will be the subject of discovery in this action,” the complaint added.
Speaking to Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Monday night, Nunes said the defendants in the complaint were “slandering” him.
“Part of the lawsuit here is not only they need to retract everything they did against me, but they also need to come clean with the American people, retract all of their fake news stories,” Nunes told Hannity, according to Mediaite.
Rep. Nunes' lawsuit alleges both that everybody already knew about the winery/cocaine/yacht/sex lawsuit, and that it is defamatory to suggest that he knew about it (by reporting that it wasn't clear whether he knew). pic.twitter.com/BwaAvZggsC
— Brad Heath (@bradheath) April 9, 2019
When asked about Nunes’ lawsuit Monday night, The McClatchy Co. issued a statement saying, “We have no comment and stand behind the strong reporting of The Fresno Bee.”
In March, Nunes filed a $250 million lawsuit against Twitter for allegedly failing to protect him from online harassment and supposedly censoring conservatives. The suit also targeted the parody accounts @DevinCow and @DevinNunesMom, as well as Mair, who was also listed as a co-defendant in Nunes’ latest suit.
The complaint accused Mair and the two satirical accounts of engaging in a “concerted defamation campaign” aimed at interfering with Nunes’ oversight work.
In an op-ed published in USA Today last week, Mair lambasted Nunes for attempting to “stifle free speech.”
It is “vitally important that the entire nation understands what this lawsuit is really about: A sitting member of the U.S. government, specifically, a congressman, is trying to stifle free speech — mine, yours and every other American’s — by using litigation as a cudgel to bully and intimidate,” she wrote.
On Monday night, Mair noted Nunes’ second suit against her in a tweet.
“So it looks like Devin Nunes is suing me a second time. Thanks for raising my name ID so high, Devin!” she quipped.
So it looks like Devin Nunes is suing me a second time. Thanks for raising my name ID so high, Devin! But seriously folks, if you value free speech, go donate here to help fund my legal defense: https://t.co/zcYqrHn6OH