Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller’s chief of staff, Kash Patel, has filed a $50 million defamation lawsuit against CNN and several of the network’s top correspondents claiming they published false statements while promoting “unfounded left-wing political narratives” by portraying him as smearing Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden as a pro-Trump conspiracist.
The suit, filed Friday in Virginia Circuit Court, names CNN correspondents Barbara Starr, Ryan Browne, Nicole Gaouette, Zachary Cohen, and Alex Marquardt as defendants, in addition to the network itself.
The complaint alleges that CNN “deliberately and recklessly conveyed a false message” in order to sensationalize “news” while humiliating Patel.
Previously, Patel served as a top aide to House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as well as an adviser to President Donald Trump.
In his suit, he says the left-leaning network published a series of stories between Nov. 24 and Dec. 4 written by the defendants that “contain a series of false and defamatory statements” about him.
The complaint lists several defamatory statements in the articles including, “Trump loyalist connected to Biden conspiracy theories is leading Pentagon transition”; Kash Patel, a Trump loyalist, … was connected to efforts to spread conspiracy theories about Joe Biden”; Patel “has also worked to discredit Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election”; “Pentagon blocked Biden’s intelligence transition team from meeting with agencies”; and “Defense Department transition office … is led by a Trump loyalist connected to efforts to spread conspiracy theories about the President-elect,” among others, Fox News reported.
Also, according to Patel’s attorneys, CNN retaliated against him because he helped expose the network’s ultimately false narrative that the president’s 2016 campaign colluded with Russian officials prior to his election.
Steven S. Biss, Patel’s attorney, says “publication of the Defamatory Statements is part of a general pattern of retaliation and discrimination against Kash” and “a larger conspiracy undertaken between 2018 and the present to discredit Kash through the publication of false statements and the promotion of unfounded left-wing political narratives.”
He adds that Kash “uncovered many inconvenient facts undermining the fake political narrative about ‘collusion’ between members of the Trump campaign and ‘Russians’” when he served under Nunes, who was chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence at the time, the complaint contends.
“CNN attacked Kash and published defamatory falsehoods about him because CNN was deeply invested in promoting the Russia collusion hoax and the fraudulent “dossier” manufactured by Fusion GPS for the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee,” Bliss wrote. “Kash debunked CNN’s reporting… CNN’s latest brutal attack on Kash’s reputation in the Articles is a continuation of past smear campaigns to discredit Kash.”
The attorney noted further that “millions who read the Defamatory Statements clearly understood them to be referring to Kash and clearly understood them to convey a defamatory meaning.” He went on to reject the idea that his client was spreading disinformation or otherwise embarked on a campaign of dishonesty, deception, and unethical and improper behavior.
“The Defendants fabricated the Defamatory Statements and knew, therefore, that the statements were false. They knew that Kash was not the source of a single conspiracy theory and had no connection to any conspiracy theory about Biden,” writes Biss.
“Defendants provide no evidence or example of any stories spread by Kash about Biden because there are none. CNN reported on the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry and read the Democrats’ report, and knew, therefore, that no evidence was uncovered connecting Kash.”
The chief of staff to Miller is seeking actual damages, presumed damages, special damages, and punitive damages resulting from the statements and actions of defendants, according to the complaint. Further, the suit seeks a permanent injunction prohibiting the correspondents from repeating the claimed defamatory speech.
“Defendants harbored extreme professional and personal animus, bias, spite and ill-will towards Kash as a result of Kash’s revelations of CNN’s corrupt business practices and deceitful misreporting,” writes Biss. “Because of this malice and desire to injure Kash, Defendants knowingly and recklessly ignored the probable falsity of the story and printed it.”
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