On Thursday, D.C. District Court judge Amit Mehta dismissed a defamation lawsuit that Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) brought against The Washington Post. Nunes had challenged the publication in March over a story that he alleged misrepresented an alleged conversation that he had with President Donald Trump about ex-acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, and currently, Nunes has a separate defamation lawsuit pending against the same publication over a November story in which the Post referenced a visit to the White House that Nunes made in 2017 while serving as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee in the midst of that panel’s Russia investigation.
There’s no apparent particular indication of imminent legal success for Nunes, who’s filed over half a dozen defamation lawsuits, including a case against Twitter over parody accounts on the site going by “Devin Nunes’ Cow” and “Devin Nunes’ Mom.” Earlier this year, Judge John Marshall concluded that Twitter is “immune from the defamation claims,” observing that Nunes “seeks to have the court treat Twitter as the publisher or speaker of the content provided by others based on its allowing or not allowing certain content to be on its internet platform,” a position that the judge said that the court “refuses” to take. In other words, Marshall refused to hold Twitter legally responsible for the parody accounts.
Meanwhile, in this newly dismissed defamation case against the Post, Judge Mehta concluded that Nunes “couldn’t demonstrate the Post acted with “actual malice,” or reckless disregard for the truth, a high standard for defamation cases waged by public figures in the United States,” as Forbes explains. Nunes has an opportunity to appeal Mehta’s decision, but his team’s chosen course of action is not immediately clear. Kris Coratti, a spokesperson for The Washington Post, said that the publication is “pleased with the outcome.”
Last month, a federal judge dismissed a libel suit that the Trump campaign brought against CNN, adding to a long list of court failures for the president and his allies. Referring to the Trump team’s attempt to prove “actual malice” on the part of CNN, which is necessary for a successful claim, U.S. District Judge Michael L. Brown wrote that “most of the allegations in the complaint regarding actual malice are conclusory.” Politicized assumptions can’t take the place of actual evidence in a courtroom.