Rep. Devin Nunes filed a defamation lawsuit against CNN in federal court on Tuesday in which he is seeking $435,350,000 in damages.
The California Republican alleges that CNN – which the lawsuit describes as “the mother of fake news” – published a “demonstrably false hit piece” on him when it reported on Nov. 22 that a lawyer for Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, said his client was willing to testify that Nunes met with last year with a former Ukrainian prosecutor in Vienna in an effort to get dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden.
In the 47-page filing, Nunes says he never traveled to Austria in 2018 and that he never met with or spoke to Viktor Shokin, the former prosecutor. The lawsuit says that during the time Parnas claimed Nunes was in Vienna, the congressman was actually in Libya and Malta. Pictures from those trips are included in the filing.
Shokin also denied meeting with Nunes after the CNN report.
Nunes’ lawsuit alleges that “CNN harbors an institutional hatred, extreme bias, spite and ill-will towards Plaintiff, the GOP and President Trump, going back many years.” And it claims that CNN filed the story about Parnas’ allegations “in retaliation and reprisal” for Nunes’ “defense of President Trump at the impeachment inquiry.”
The lawsuit also disputes CNN’s reporting that Nunes spoke with Parnas around the time of his alleged trip to Vienna (Nov. 30 to Dec. 3). But phone records released Tuesday in the draft impeachment report from three House committees showed Nunes and Parnas exchanged several calls on April 12, including one that last more than eight minutes.
Parnas’ attorney Edward MacMahon told USA TODAY that the two discussed investigations into corruption in Ukraine.
During an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity on Tuesday night, Nunes said “it’s possible” he spoke with Parnas.
“I haven’t gone through all my phone records. I don’t really recall that name. I remember the name now because he’s been indicted,” he said. “I’ll go back and check all my records but it seems very unlikely that I would be taking calls from random people.”
Nunes is one of the more litigious members of Congress. In 2018, he sued the McClatchy newspaper company for $150 million over a Fresno Bee report on a winery that Nunes has a stake in allegedly hosting a work function that included prostitutes and cocaine.
Last month, he filed a lawsuit against Esquire magazine’s publisher Hearst and reporter Ryan Lizza for an article about his family farm moving to Iowa in 2007.
In March, he filed a $250 million lawsuit against Twitter, accusing the social media company of burying conservative content. In that lawsuit, he also named as defendants two parody accounts based on mocking him: Devin Nunes’ Cow and Devin Nunes’ Mom.
When Nunes’ filed the lawsuit, the Devin Nunes’ Cow account had less than 2,000 followers. It now has more than 675,000