White House Official Sues Politico for $25 Million Over Ukraine Story
Denouncing both the media and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff in the process, a White House official has filed a $25 million libel suit against the media outlet Politico.
Kash Patel, who serves as the National Security Council’s senior counterterrorism director, is seeking $25.35 million in damages in the suit, a copy of which was uploaded by Breitbart.
Natasha Bertrand, a Politico reporter and MSNBC contributor, is targeted in the suit, as is Politico owner Robert Allbritton.
The suit focuses on an Oct. 23 story with the headline “Nunes Protege Fed Ukraine Info to Trump.”
Patel previously worked for Rep. Devin Nunes of California, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee.
The story claimed Patel was a key figure in passing information about Ukraine along to President Donald Trump, shaping Trump’s belief about both corruption in Ukraine and the extent of any Ukrainian interference during the 2016 election in support of Democrats.
Politico spokesman Brad Dayspring was dismissive of the suit.
“This lawsuit is high on bombast and low on merit. It is unserious and is a public relations tactic designed to intimidate journalists and media organizations from doing their job,” he told Fox News.
Patel earlier pushed back against the story, saying that media outlets “have falsely reported that … I have communicated with President Trump regarding Ukraine.”
The lawsuit expands upon those comments and more.
“We live in the era of weaponized media,” it says.
“The days of the mild-mannered reporter — covering a beat, gathering facts and truthfully reporting about ‘the news that’s fit to print’ — are over. The venerable ‘Fourth Estate’ has been replaced by partisan hacks and character assassins who work to advance the interests and agendas of dark money,” the lawsuit adds in its opening lines, before going on to claim that Politico knowingly published false information.
Schiff, a Democrat from California, emerges as a target in the lawsuit, in which he is described as having been “infamously pranked by two Russian comedians who offered to provide him nude photos of President Trump.”
The suit says “Schiff has been described as a congenital liar and a inveterate leaker. His extreme bias towards the President of the United States is open and notorious.”
The lawsuit targets closed-door testimony presented to the House Intelligence Committee, which Schiff is accused of leaking to Politico.
“Defendants relied upon Schiff — a demagogue with an axe to grind against the President, against Congressman Nunes, and against Kash,” it adds.
The suit attacks Schiff’s conduct during the impeachment inquiry into Trump.
“Schiff completely ignored forty-five (45) years of bipartisan procedures, intentionally ignored the custom and course of dealing established in and by prior impeachment inquiries, violated the public’s First Amendment right of access and hid the proceedings from the American public, applied ‘Schiff’s Rules of Evidence’ — meaning no rules, and refused to afford and extend basic constitutional safeguards, such as the right to present evidence, the right to confront accusers and to cross-examine witnesses, so as to ensure that the interviews were conducted in such a way as to promote the constitutional interests fundamental fairness and due process,” the lawsuit reads.
“Schiff conducted the interviews like a Star Chamber or Kangaroo Court, and, in so doing, stripped the witnesses of any privilege or immunity from defamation that they may have enjoyed,” the suit claims.
“Schiff conducted the closed-door interviews with one goal in mind — to create click-bait headlines and soundbites to feed to his co-conspirators and media sympathizers.”
The lawsuit says that when transcripts of the closed-door hearings were released, they proved the comments published by Politico regarding Patel were not accurate.
However, the lawsuit says, no retraction was published despite the demand for one.
“Defendants’ reporting was categorically and knowingly false. At no time prior to October 30, 2019 had Kash ever communicated with the President on any matters involving Ukraine. Kash never supplied any Ukraine ‘materials’ to the President,” the lawsuit says.
The suit also accuses Politico of publishing information it knew was wrong “as a means of furthering Schiff’s baseless Ukrainian quid pro quo hoax.”
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