Ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes, who emerged as a central figure in the televised hearings for President Donald Trump‘s impeachment inquiry, has followed through on his promise to file a lawsuit against CNN for a story published which alleged he had shady dealings with a Ukrainian prosecutor.
Nunes and his attorneys are seeking $435 million in the lawsuit that deals with two instances of what they labeled as “defamation.”
According to The Washington Examiner, the lawsuit is primarily in response to a story CNN published last month that was titled “Giuliani associate willing to tell Congress Nunes met with ex-Ukrainian official to get dirt on Biden.” The story involved a claim made by lawyer Joseph Bondy — who represented Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas — that Nunes’ intended goal of the alleged meeting was to assist in the process of digging up damaging political information on former Vice President Joe Biden.
The story, in Bondy’s words, alleged that Nunes met with former Ukrainian prosecutor Victor Shokin, who was fired in 2016 due to reported pressure from the United States. Bondy also claimed that Parnas, who is currently facing campaign finance charges, was “willing to tell Congress” that the meeting took place and that it was held in Vienna.
The date of the alleged meeting between Nunes and Shokin happened between late November 2018 and early December 2018, with CNN even adding copies of official Congressional travel records indicating Nunes’ presence in the region around that time.
“Mr. Parnas learned from former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Victor Shokin that Nunes had met with Shokin in Vienna last December,” the CNN report stated, quoting Bondy’s words.
Nunes originally reacted to the report not long after it was published, calling it “demonstrably false.” Only now have details of Nunes’ side of the story been released due to his lawsuit against the mainstream media outlet.
The lawsuit made clear that while Nunes was, in fact, traveling during the reported dates, he was in Libya and Malta on official government business and never traveled to Vienna during that time frame.
“At no time during his visits to Libya or Malta did [Nunes] or his staff ever meet any Ukrainians or have any discussions with anyone about the Bidens,” the lawsuit filing said.
Nunes’ lawyers argued that Parnas is hardly a reliable source of information, given a checkered past and the fact that he’s currently facing serious charges.
“From all the evidence in its possession, CNN was well-aware that Parnas was a renowned liar, a fraudster, a hustler, an opportunist with delusions of grandeur, a man in financial extremis laboring under the weight of a $500,000 civil judgment, and an indicted criminal defendant with a clear motive to lie.”
As The Washington Examiner reported, CNN has not removed the published story and reportedly still backs the report.