You would think someone who has been a public figure for as long as Donald J. Trump has would know what a high bar public figures have to meet when it comes to suing for defamation, especially given the number of defamation lawsuits in which Mr. Trump has already been involved.
Nevertheless, Mr. Trump filed yet another defamation lawsuit against the Cable News Network (CNN) for allegedly comparing him to Adolf Hitler and Nazism.
The statements at the center of the lawsuit include repeated references to Mr. Trump’s “big lie,” meaning his insistence that he won the 2020 presidential election, and Biden and the Democrats cheated to steal the presidency from him. The lawsuit also claims that CNN’s alleged defamation has increased lately amid the network’s fears of Mr. Trump running for reelection in 2024.
Mr. Trump’s defamation lawsuit asked for $475 million in damages, but the case was dismissed by Judge Raag Singhal, who was nominated to the District Court by then-President Trump in 2019.
Singhal pointed out that CNN’s statements about Mr. Trump did not meet the defamation threshold of being false. Singhal denied the conclusion made by the lawsuit that CNN’s statements suggested Mr. Trump supported the persecution or genocide of Jews.
Singhal further stated that he found references to Nazism in the political discourse to be reprehensible, regardless of which side was making such references. But there’s a difference between unsavory references and false statements, and the statements in question in this lawsuit are not factually inaccurate.
Public figures have additional barriers to hurdle when suing for defamation because the writers of the U.S. Constitution wanted to encourage discourse and the spread of information about public figures, especially when they’re running for office. Those additional barriers include proving the person or entity making the false statements knew they were false at the time they made them, and made the false statements anyway with the intention of causing harm to the target’s career and/or finances.
The judge dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice, which means Mr. Trump is not allowed to use the same reasoning to file another lawsuit.
At Lubin Austermuehle, we help clients navigate the complex laws and emotionally charged pathways to a court victory or settlement in slander and libel cases, as well as a vast range of other disputes from class action suits to breach of contract. We serve clients throughout Chicagoland from Waukegan, to Skokie and beyond. You can contact us online here or call us at 630-333-0333. Take advantage of our FREE consultation, where we can discuss your specific needs and wishes and our ability to meet them.