Three-Judge Panel Rules Against Devin Nunes In Defamation Case

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A three-judge panel on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has shut down an attempt by former California Republican Congressman Devin Nunes to undo a previous ruling throwing out a defamation case he brought against CNN. That case was over an article CNN published back in 2019 stating that Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani, was willing to testify to members of Congress that Nunes discussed efforts to obtain damaging information on the Bidens with a former Ukrainian prosecutor. It’s the right-wing push to lock down that sort of damaging information that helped drive Trump’s first impeachment — Trump’s administration held back critical military aid for Ukraine as the then-president and his allies pressured Ukrainian officials to launch investigations that would be favorable to Trump’s team.

One judge on the panel — which was entirely comprised of Trump appointees — dissented from the ruling against Nunes’s appeal. As summarized by Reuters, the other two judges concluded the ex-member of Congress ‘failed to seek a correction fast enough, or show he deserved “special damages” for economic loss.’ Nunes’s actions, Circuit Judge William Nardini concluded in line with earlier findings from a lower-level judge, didn’t line up with California state laws regarding retractions. Nunes had been seeking a whopping $435 million in damages. Circuit Judge Steven Menashi, the dissenting judge on the appeals court panel, argued that New York laws — not California statutes — should have been regarded as covering Nunes’s case. Nunes also took issue with an episode of the now-cancelled CNN program “Cuomo Prime Time” on which the host, Chris Cuomo, discussed the allegations about Nunes’s part in attempts to get politically useful info on the Bidens.

Nunes also recently lost an appeal meant to revive a defamation lawsuit he brought against The Washington Post for an article he alleged suggested (among other things) that he lied to then-President Trump about who attended a particular intelligence briefing for members of Congress. As previously reported here, the ex-Congressman “failed to plausibly allege a claim of defamation,” the court found. It would appear as though the notion that Nunes lied to Trump simply wasn’t an intended part or implication of the original article. That piece in the Post was called “Senior Intelligence Official Told Lawmakers That Russia Wants to See Trump Reelected,” and — as its title suggests — it laid out how U.S. intelligence official Shelby Pierson informed members of the House Intelligence Committee of Russian officials’ hopes for Trump’s re-election ahead of the 2020 presidential contest. The Post article notes how Trump misunderstood who was at the briefing and obtained information about the briefing from Nunes — but these points are distinct. The Post didn’t make one (Nunes’s discussion with Trump of the briefing) the cause for the other.