Georgia Judge Dismisses Trump Campaign Libel Lawsuit Against CNN

November 13, 2020 Updated: November 13, 2020

A judge on Thursday dismissed a libel lawsuit the Trump campaign had filed against CNN on the grounds that the court found no malice by the news outlet.

The Trump 2020 campaign had filed a libel lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, where CNN is headquartered, accusing the outlet of publishing “false and defamatory” statements about seeking Russia’s help in the Nov. 3 election.

In their lawsuit, Trump’s campaign noted this statement from Noble’s op-ed: “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 complaint said that CNN was well aware the statements were false.

CNN argued, “the article is a political op-ed and the Statement is not actionable because statements of opinion are absolutely protected under state and federal constitutional law.”

U.S. District Judge Michael Brown found the Trump campaign’s complaint did not prove malice. “The Court grants Defendants’ motion and dismisses Plaintiff’s complaint about failing sufficiently to plead malice,” Brown wrote. “The Court, however, allows Plaintiff the opportunity to file an amended complaint.”

The Trump campaign sought compensation through litigation only after their legal team sent CNN a request to retract and apologize for the false claims in Noble’s article and executives declined.

Larry Noble’s CNN story referenced by the complaint was published by CNN on June 13, 2019, and was labeled as an opinion piece.

CNN did not return The Epoch Times request for comment on Noble’s article.

Brown said that the statement in the article was “capable of being proven true or false” despite being published in an opinion piece.

“It does not say Plaintiff ‘may have’ conducted such an assessment or that it ‘might have’ made a decision,” Brown wrote. “It does not say that Mr. Noble ‘fears’ Plaintiff did either of these things or that statements by people connected to the campaign ‘suggest’ it did so. The Statement has no such qualifying or softening language.”

He also wrote, “As a matter of constitutional law, a public figure plaintiff must prove actual malice, meaning the allegedly libelous statement was ‘made with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.’ Most of the allegations in the complaint regarding actual malice are conclusory.”

The Trump campaign did not immediately return a request for comment on the dismissal of the lawsuit.