One of the Republican congressmen who most visibly opposed Democrats’ mishandling of classified information has sued MSNBC’s parent company on the grounds that Rachel Maddow defamed him.
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) filed a lawsuit against NBCUniversal on Tuesday over claims that Maddow made, suggesting that Nunes did not turn over a package he received from a pro-Russian Ukrainian lawmaker in late 2019.
“How do Republicans keep Devin Nunes on as the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee given his unexplained interactions with Andriy Derkach?” the show’s official account tweeted at the time.
How do Republicans keep Devin Nunes on as the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee given his unexplained interactions with Andriy Derkach? pic.twitter.com/d9wKsrJVAe
— Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) March 19, 2021
“Congressman Nunes has refused to answer questions about what he received from Andriy Derkach. He has refused to show the contents of the package to other members of the intelligence community,” Maddow told MSNBC viewers. “He has refused to hand it over to the FBI, which is what you should do if you get something from somebody who is sanctioned by the U.S. as a Russian agent.”
But in a 17-page legal complaint, Nunes states that Maddow knew that he turned the package over to the FBI and alerted then-Attorney General William Barr at the time, but she chose to run the segment without asking him for a comment.
These “statements were a product of Maddow’s imagination,” said his lawyers, Madhu S. Sekharan and Steven S. Biss. “She made them up out of whole cloth in order to impute intentional wrongdoing to” Nunes.
“Although Maddow made it appear as if she had direct knowledge of facts, she did not have one shred of evidence to support the statements,” they said.
“The statements falsely accuse [Nunes] of criminal conduct (obstruction of justice and treason), serious breaches of the Code of Conduct and violations of protocols concerning the handling of information that comes to the House Intelligence Committee from foreign sources such as Derkach, concealment and deception, lack of integrity and ethical improprieties,” they continued.
Nunes’ attorneys stated that Maddow aired the spurious allegations, because “MSNBC and Maddow harbor an institutional hostility, hatred, extreme bias, spite and ill-will towards plaintiff due to plaintiff’s emergence as the most prominent skeptic in Congress of Maddow’s marquee news narrative from 2017 to 2019: that the Trump campaign colluded with Russians to hack the 2016 presidential elections.”
Nunes could face an uphill battle against Maddow because at least one judge has already ruled that Maddow’s viewers are aware that statements Maddow makes on her show may not be “fact.”
After One America News Network sued Maddow for falsely claiming that OANN received money from the Russian government, U.S. District Judge Cynthia Bashant — an Obama appointee — ruled last May that Rachel Maddow’s “statements cannot reasonably be interpreted as allegations of fact”
The Nunes segment aired on the March 18, 2021, episode of MSNBC’s top-rated program, the “Rachel Maddow Show.”
Nunes, who serves as the ranking Republican on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, earned the ire of congressional Democrats in February 2018, when he released a four-page memo summarizing abuses the Obama administration’s FBI and Justice Department engaged in to obtain a FISA warrant to spy on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
Derkach has also been an irritant to Democrats. Last May, Derkach released what he claimed was a private recording of then-Vice President Joe Biden speaking with then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko that appeared to confirm the allegation that Biden demanded a quid pro quo from the Ukrainian leader. In it, Joe Biden allegedly boasted to the Council on Foreign Relations that he threatened to withhold a $1 billion loan guarantee unless Poroshenko fired prosecutor Viktor Shokin, who was investigating the Ukrainian oil company Burisma, which employed Hunter Biden.
“Despite the fact that we didn’t have any corruption charges, we don’t have any information about him doing something wrong … I specifically asked him to resign,” Poroshenko said.
Nunes has attempted to hold the media accountable for misstatements about him in the past. He sued CNN for $435 million for accusing him of being part of an opposition research project against Joe and Hunter Biden. In 2019, he sued Twitter for $250 million for silencing center-Right content. Judges dismissed both lawsuits.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.