Calling it the “mother of fake news” that is “eroding the fabric of America,” Rep. Devin Nunes (R–Tulare) launched a new legal blitz against CNN on Tuesday.
The Tulare Congressman filed a $435 million defamation suit against the cable network over a Nov. 22 story described as a “demonstrably false hit piece” claiming that he sought to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden during an alleged trip to Vienna last year.
Two pages in, the complaint – filed in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Virginia – plainly states “Devin Nunes did not go to Vienna or anywhere else in Austria in 2018.”
The underlying claims published by CNN originated from Joseph Bondy, attorney for Lev Parnas, an indicted Ukrainian associate of Rudy Giuliani.
Bondy claimed that Parnas would be willing to testify to the fact that Nunes visited the Austrian capital and met with ousted Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin.
Shokin, in his old role, was investigating natural gas firm Burisma Holdings, of which Hunter Biden was a board member. In 2016, Vice President Joe Biden instructed then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to fire Shokin or lose $1 billion in loan guarantees from the Federal government.
According to the suit, Nunes did conduct foreign travel during the time Parnas claimed he was in Vienna. However, Nunes visited Libya and Malta in late 2018 on Congressional delegation trips.
The complaint references stories that refuted the core claims in CNN’s original report, saying “[t]his meeting never took place. Viktor Shokin doesn’t know and hasn’t even heard of Devin Nunes.”
The suit alleges that Parnas, via his attorneys, sought to claim Nunes visited Vienna due to Parnas’ strong connection to Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash, who is currently residing there while awaiting extradition to the United States on charges of racketeering and money laundering.
As Nunes’ complaint reads: “By placing [Nunes] in the same city as Firtash, Parnas would be able to fabricate more fake news, including that [Nunes] was working with the indicted oligarch Firtash on some nefarious plot.”
The complaint details not only the alleged defects in CNN’s reporting in the original story, but subsequent TV reporting and discussion on the network.
In the suit, Nunes argues that CNN host Chris Cuomo and story author Vicky Ward “vouched for the story as if it were fact.”
Through various vehicles of airing out the allegations, Nunes argues that “CNN’s goal was to inflict maximum damage” to his reputation worldwide “and to cause him to be removed from the impeachment inquiry.”