He appears to ride the wave of a thousand lawsuits, give or take, with the ease of a professional surfer. But it appears that Donald Trump Jr. has failed to inherit his father’s abilities in the suing “surfin’ scene,” as The Beach Boys sang via YouTube. Check out this latest fiasco that Jr. has managed to create.
It all started when the eldest Trump son did not like that former coal baron Don Blankenship ran for a Senate seat of West Virginia on the Constitution Party ticket. In his race against Senator John Manchin (D-KY). Jr. called him a “disgraced” former “coal baron.
True, Blankenship did serve time in prison over a tragic 2010 coal-mining disaster, as NPR reported. But the reason he sued Trump-the-Younger was for defamation of character. As the plaintiff, he claimed that Trump Jr. defamed him via tweets calling him a “felon,” according to The Court Listener site:
‘Don’t think Manchin will do that. His ads are usually ab[ou]t him. He’s probably never run against a felon.’
The Republicans wanted to run Republican Representative Evan Jenkins or Attorney General Patrick Morrisey against the vulnerable Democratic Senator Joe Manchin for the Senate seat. They were afraid Blankenship would ruin their plans. Jr. tweeted:
‘I hate to lose. So I’m gonna go out on a limb here and ask the people of West Virginia to make a wise decision and reject Blankenship! No more fumbles like Alabama. We need to win in November. #wv #wvpol’
The New York Times described the basis for Blankenship’s case against Don Jr.:
‘That tweet appears to have been deleted since its original posting, and it forms the basis of Blankenship’s lawsuit. Blankenship brought a civil action in federal court against Trump, Jr. alleging that the tweets “constituted defamation, false light invasion of privacy, and civil conspiracy.’
In the way of wealthy men, Blankenship only faced a year in prison, even though the disastrous event caused the death of 29 miners. But he had been convicted of a misdemeanor, not a felony.
National Political Reporter for CNN, Dan Merca tweeted:
‘Trump’s son urges West Virginia Republicans to reject Blankenship, who responds by labeling @DonaldJTrumpJr part of the “establishment”‘
‘National Republicans were worried when Blankenship jumped into the race, given that the former CEO of Massey Energy had just recently finished serving a yearlong sentence following a misdemeanor conviction for his involvement in the deadliest US mine explosion in four decades.’
Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr. wrote the opinion for the U.S. District Court in West Virginia, according to The Law & Crime:
‘Based on this article that Trump, Jr. himself cites within his own quote tweet, there is a plausible inference that he had knowledge of the plaintiff’s conviction history in association with the mine explosion, and in particular that the conviction was a misdemeanor, not a felony. (This misstatement, coupled with Trump, Jr.’s likely knowledge of its inaccuracy), supports a plausible allegation of reckless disregard for the truth.’
Don Jr. responded to Merica’s tweet:
‘Ha, now I’m establishment? No, I’m realistic & I know the first thing Manchin will do is run ads featuring the families of those 29 miners killed due to actions that sent you to prison. Can’t win the general… you should know that & if others in the GOP won’t say it, I will.’
Judge Copenhaver rejected the ex-president’s son’s arguments and wrote:
‘[It is] clearly a subject of both the quote tweet and the reply tweet [T]here is no requirement in a defamation suit that the statement be directed toward the victim. [T]he nature of Twitter posts, including replies, is that they are in the public view. Whether or not someone has committed a felony, and therefore may be identified as a felon. is a factual determination.’
The judge continued:
‘[T]he court by its nature understands the distinction between a misdemeanor and a felony. Although the exact difference between these categories may not be as clear to general society, the court agrees with the plaintiff that ‘society at large’ might view a “felon” far differently than a person who has committed an offense resulting in a misdemeanor conviction. Trump Jr.’s tweet labeling the plaintiff a felon was not a substantial truth or a minor inaccuracy.’
Trump, Jr. moved to dismiss the defamation lawsuit. But the court favored Blakenship. Now, the case heads for trial.
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