RICHMOND, Va. (CN) — California Congressman Devin Nunes sued the Washington Post for defamation Monday, alleging the publication fabricated information relating to the Republican congressman’s relationship with President Donald Trump’s former acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire.
The 23-page federal complaint, filed in Richmond, Virginia, claims the Washington Post published two stories that inaccurately reported his involvement in Maguire’s final weeks as an agency head.
Maguire supervised the country’s intelligence services during the investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 elections and over a whistleblower complaint that alleged Trump withheld military aid in exchange for an investigation into the son of former Vice President Joe Biden.
Aid was released without an investigation into Biden’s son. Trump was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives over the incident but acquitted in the U.S. Senate.
Maguire resigned in late February, but not before holding a classified meeting with congressional leaders to inform them that Russia wanted to see Trump reelected.
The Post reported that Nunes informed Trump about the briefing, causing Trump’s ire at Maguire and ruining Maguire's chances of becoming the permanent intelligence chief.
According to Nunes’s lawsuit, he did not inform Trump about the briefing.
“The defamatory gist of the WaPo Hit Piece is that Plaintiff lied to and deceived the President of the United States, which caused the President to become ‘angry at his acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, in the Oval Office, seeing Maguire and his staff as disloyal for speaking to Congress about Russia’s perceived preference’, which ‘furious response’ ‘ruined Maguire’s chances of becoming the permanent intelligence chief,’” the complaint claims.
The lawsuit also names Washington Post intelligence and national security correspondent Shane Harris as a defendant. It alleges a piece written by Harris about the Steele dossier, an opposition research report that compiled a litany of claims about then-candidate Trump's relationship with Russia, falsely claimed the research wasn’t used to grant a FISA warrant against Trump’s campaign workers.
In a statement, the Washington Post backed its reporting.
“The Post stands behind the reporting of Shane Harris and his colleagues,” said Kris Coratti Kelly, vice president of communications for the Washington Post. “We will vigorously defend our work against the claims made in Rep. Nunes’s lawsuit.”
Nunes took to Fox News on Sunday to preview the lawsuit.
“The mainstream media continues to go about their normal pace of creating narratives and selling them to the American people,” he said. “Unfortunately, these fake news stories live on.”
Monday’s lawsuit is the seventh filed by Nunes in a year. He is also suing CNN, Twitter, an internet cow and other critics for defamation in federal and state courts in Virginia.
His first complaint, filed against the political research group Fusion GPS, was dismissed without a hearing last month.
U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady wrote in his dismissal of the suit that the complaint contained “many rote statements of law and conclusory allegations which fall short of meeting a legal standard determined by the Supreme Court.”
Nunes is seeking over $250 million in compensatory damages and another $350,000 in punitive damages.
He is represented by Stephen Biss, an attorney based out of Charlottesville, Virginia. Biss is representing the congressman in several of his other complaints.
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