GOP Operative Accuses Trump of Defamation
(CN) - A veteran GOP operative sued Donald Trump and his campaign manager in New York on Monday for falsely portraying her as a spurned job seeker who has trashed him in the media only after she wasn't hired as his communications director.
In a complaint filed in New York Supreme Court, Cheri Jacobus says Trump and campaign manager Corey Lewandowski knowingly impugned her reputation in retaliation for her criticisms of Trump's performance as a candidate.
"The gist and sting of the defamatory statements made by Lewandowski and Trump were accusations that Jacobus had begged the Trump Campaign for a job with the Campaign on multiple occasions, but had been turned down by the Campaign (In Lewandowski's telling), and by Trump himself (in Trump's telling), which caused a scorned Jacobus to seek revenge against Trump and the Campaign through biased commentary in the media," the 29-page complaint says.
"These statements incited a virtual campaign of abuse and harassment against Jacobus, causing enormous damage to her career and reputation, significant emotion distress and holding her up to public ridicule. These statements by Lewandowski and Trump were also undeniably false," the complaint says.
Jacobus says the Republican frontrunner and Lewandowski took umbrage to her comment on CNN that Trump "comes off like a third grader faking his way through an oral report on current affairs."
In the wake of that statement, the complaint says, Lewandowski went on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program and dismissed Jacobus as someone who visited the Trump campaign office several times to try to get a job with the campaign.
When she wasn't hired, Lewandowski allegedly said, "she ... clearly she went off and was upset by that."
Trump then launched a broadside of his own, the complaint says, tweeting "@cherijacobus begged us for a job. We said no and she went hostile. A real dummy!"
On Feb. 3, Jacobus had her lawyer send a cease-and-desist letter to Trump and Lewandowski, but the candidate was unrepentant, tweeting, "Really dumb @CheriJacobus. Begged my people for a job. Turned her down twice and she went hostile. Major loser, zero credibility!"
In her complaint, Jacobus confirms that she did indeed meet with Lewandowski and another Trump staffer, Jim Dornan, at Trump Tower last year to discuss a job.
"In fact, the Trump Campaign actively recruited Jacobus but boorish behavior by Lewandowski led Jacobus to conclude that she would not be comfortable working for the Trump campaign," the complaint says.
The complaint then goes on to describe that "boorish" behavior"
"Lewandowski became increasingly agitated and rude, speaking in a loud voice and seeming to lack control. Lewandowski made several inappropriate remarks, bragging about yelling at Megyn Kelly, a well known journalist, and ... bragging about Trump's relationship with Roger Ailes and insisting, in response to Jacobus' suggestion regarding media coverage, that they could do whatever they wanted with Fox and had them on their side," the complaint says.
Jacobus seeks $4 million in damages as well as unspecified punitive damages and court costs.
She is represented by Jay Butterman of Butterman and Kahn on New York.
Representatives of the Trump campaign could not immediately be reached for comment.
In response to the assertions contained in the complaint, a Fox News spokesperson, said "It's hardly uncommon for Roger Ailes to sign correspondence by offering a helping hand, but it would be a fanciful interpretation to equate a cordial email with providing assistance to a political candidate in the vein of editorial coverage. Furthermore, Roger doesn't recall having even met Corey Lewandowski, much less dining with him."