Former President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit against CNN on Monday, alleging defamation and seeking $475 million in punitive damages. He is also seeking $75,000 in compensatory damages.
The lawsuit, filed on Monday in the U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, accuses CNN of having "sought to use its massive influence—purportedly as a 'trusted' news source" to defame Trump "for the purpose of defeating him politically."
"CNN’s campaign of dissuasion in the form of libel and slander against the Plaintiff has only escalated in recent months as CNN fears the Plaintiff will run for president in 2024," Trump's lawyers added.
In the filing, the attorneys said that CNN "has tried to taint [Trump] with a series of ever-more scandalous, false, and defamatory labels of 'racist,' 'Russian lackey,' 'insurrectionist,' and ultimately 'Hitler.'"
"CNN has been given the dreaded 'Pants on Fire!' designation by PolitiFact for its stories comparing Trump to Hitler. Still, it persists, requiring the time and expense of filing the instant lawsuit," they wrote, later noting that CNN had "failed and refused to retract or correct the false and defamatory statements."
Trump's attorneys noted that there is "no statutory cap on punitive damages" because CNN allegedly had a "specific intent to harm" Trump, and its conduct allegedly did harm him. As such, Trump "may recover in excess of $2 million and in excess of four times his actual damages—the limits that Florida law otherwise would provide."
The 'Big Lie'The attorneys said that "[o]ne of the most pervasive associations between [Trump] and Hitler that CNN has employed is its use of the term the 'Big Lie' in relation to the Plaintiff’s stated concerns about the integrity of the election process for the 2020 presidential election."
They added that by publishing the allegedly defamatory statements, CNN "has incited readers and viewers to hate, contempt, distrust, ridicule, and even fear" Trump.
Trump's attorneys noted in the filing that undercover footage captured of a CNN employee shows that the employee "admitted that CNN’s coverage and negative characterizations of [Trump] were intended to convince viewers to vote him out of political office."
Trump had previously signaled in a statement from his Save America committee in late July that he would sue CNN for "their repeated defamatory statements" against him.
He noted that he would also file lawsuits against other media outlets "in the coming weeks and months." He did not name the specific other outlets but referred to them collectively as "Fake News Media Companies." He said the legal actions are "for their lies, defamation, and wrongdoing, including as it pertains to 'The Big Lie,' that they used so often in reference to their disinformation attack on Presidential Election of 2020."
Possible Action Against Jan. 6 CommitteeTrump separately noted that he "may bring appropriate action" against the Jan. 6 Committee, which came about after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) initiated a resolution in mid-2021 to create a committee to probe the breach of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
The nine-member committee has been criticized for its apparent partisanship, in part because the only two Republicans on the panel—Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) and Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.)—are both known for their strong opposition to Trump.
In his statement on Monday, Trump said of the Jan. 6 Committee: "notwithstanding overwhelming evidence, they REFUSED to investigate the massive Presidential Election Fraud which took place, but only investigate and harass the people and Patriots who complained and asked questions about it. The rigging and stealing of our Presidential Election was perhaps The Crime Of The Century, and look at what is happening to our Country now!"
"The Unselect Committee has refused to acknowledge, as was done by the Biden Inspector General at the Department of Defense, and others, that days ahead of January 6th, I recommended and authorized thousands of troops to be deployed to ensure that that there was peace, safety, and security at the Capitol and throughout the Country," the former president said.
"That offer of National Guard was rejected by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and Mayor Bowser of Washington, D.C.-the law requires their request, they failed to make one, and in turn failed the Country."
A spokesperson for the committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.