Rep. Nunes Wins Major Victory In Defamation Case Against Ryan Lizza and Hearst

We have been following a slew of defamation lawsuits by political figures over the last few years. (See, e.g., here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). For torts scholars, it has been a bonanza of interesting issues touching on every element of defamation law. There is now an important ruling out of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit that could have enormous implications not just for the media but anyone who retweets stories or claims. The appellate panel ruled unanimously for Rep. Devin Nunes against journalist Ryan Lizza who now writes for Politico. Nunes will be allowed to litigate his claim that Lizza defamed him by claiming that he secretly moved his farm from California to Iowa and linked the move to the alleged use of undocumented labor. Not only does Nunes have no reported stake or operational involvement with the farm, there is no evidence of his effort to hide the move or conceal any use of undocumented laborers. However, the interesting aspect of the ruling is how a retweet by Lizza resuscitated the case for Nunes.

In 2019, Nunes sued Lizza and Hearst Magazines after Lizza wrote a feature article entitled “Devin Nunes’s Family Farm Is Hiding a Politically Explosive Secret,” in Esquire. Lizza asked in the article “Why would the Nuneses, Steve King, and an obscure dairy publication all conspire to hide the fact that the congressman’s family sold its farm and moved to Iowa?” The “explosive secret” appeared to be his moving the family dairy farm to Iowa from his district and the suggestion that the farm was using undocumented labor.

The claims, if false, could be the basis for defamation. A separate lawsuit against Lizza and Hearst by the family farm, NuStar, was previously found valid for the purposes of a trial. The issue was the separate Nunes complaint and federal judge C.J. Williams rejected his claims because “[m]oving or concealing a move is not a crime. Because the object of the ‘conspiracy’ is harmless, no reasonable reader could interpret the term ‘conspiracy’ to imply criminal conduct in this context.”

The appellate panel agreed that there was no express defamatory statement in the article. However, it found that a reasonable jury could find it defamatory by implication. As such, the statements do no need to be individually defamatory if they leave a defamatory meaning in the juxtaposing of fact or omitting facts. The court ruled that “[b]ased on the article’s presentation of facts, we think the complaint plausibly alleges that a reasonable reader could draw the implication that Representative Nunes conspired to hide the farm’s use of undocumented labor.”

The problem for Nunes is that he is a public official. The standard for defamation for public figures and officials in the United States is the product of a decision decades ago in New York Times v. Sullivan. This is precisely the environment in which the opinion was written. The Supreme Court ruled that tort law could not be used to overcome First Amendment protections for free speech or the free press. The Court sought to create “breathing space” for the media by articulating that standard that now applies to both public officials and public figures. As such, public officials and public figures must show either actual knowledge of its falsity or a reckless disregard of the truth.

Notably, Nunes sought to challenge New York Times v. Sullivan, which a lower court could not set aside. Presumably, he will seek an eventual Supreme Court review to achieve that purpose.  However, the appellate court is bound to follow the precedent and held “[u]nder that demanding standard, we agree with the district court that the complaint is insufficient to state a claim of actual malice as to the original publication.”

That is when the case took a very interesting turn.  The Court found that Lizza later retweeting and linking to his story created a viable basis for defamation. Under the “single publication” rule any one edition of a book or newspaper, even if distributed in thousands of copies, constitutes one publication that may support only one cause of action. Restatement (Second) of Torts § 577A(3) (Am. L. Inst. 1977). However, there can be liability for a “republication.”

That is what the court found Lizza did when he later retweeted the publication. Notably, this was not just a retweet but a retweet with a new comment and link. That makes it a bit different from the typical single publication case. Effectively, Lizza renewed and added to his prior comments in the view of the court.

On November 20, 2019, Lizza tweeted: “I noticed that Devin Nunes is in the news. If you’re interested in a strange tale about Nunes, small-town Iowa, the complexities of immigration policy, a few car chases, and lots of cows, I’ve got a story for you.” That, according to the panel, tripped the wire by showing actual malice since he was now aware of the denials of involvement in the farm:

“The complaint here adequately alleges that Lizza intended to reach and actually reached a new audience by publishing a tweet about Nunes and a link to the article. In November 2019, Lizza was on notice of the article’s alleged defamatory implication by virtue of this lawsuit. The complaint alleges that he then consciously presented the material to a new audience by encouraging readers to peruse his “strange tale” about “immigration policy,” and promoting that “I’ve got a story for you.” Under those circumstances, the complaint sufficiently alleges that Lizza republished the article after he knew that the Congressman denied knowledge of undocumented labor on the farm or participation in any conspiracy to hide it.”

It is important to keep in mind that the “actual malice” standard can be shown by either making knowingly false statements or showing a reckless disregard for the truth.  The irresistible impulse to strike out at Nunes may prove extremely costly for Lizza.

The panel held:

“Lizza tweeted the article in November 2019 after Nunes filed this lawsuit and denied the article’s implication. The pleaded facts are suggestive enough to render it plausible that Lizza, at that point, engaged in “the purposeful avoidance of the truth.” Harte-Hanks, 491 U.S. at 692.”

This could present a major new precedent if it is appealed to the Supreme Court. First, it could allow the Court to review New York Times v. Sullivan given the questions raised by some justices recently about the case. Second, even if Sullivan is safe, it could expand possible liability by treating social media links and retweets as republications.

We have been discussing the rise of advocacy journalism and the rejection of objectivity in journalism schools. This ruling could present a serious push back on advocacy journalism where the line between fact and opinion is becoming increasingly blurry.

Here is the decision: Nunes opinion

78 thoughts on “Rep. Nunes Wins Major Victory In Defamation Case Against Ryan Lizza and Hearst”

  1. OT.

    F*** Mitch McConnell.

    The GOP is going to filibuster the motion to proceed to a vote on whether to increase the debt ceiling. They will not even allow a vote.

    Mitch McConnell in 2019, in response to “So you are expecting, then, to raise the debt ceiling once again?” —
    “Of course. We will never have America default. We will raise the debt ceiling because America can’t default. I mean, that would be a disaster.”
    McConnell now: “Republicans are united in opposition to raising the debt ceiling.”

    He is willing to have America default as long as there’s a Democrat in the WH. He does not give a f*** about the economic disaster it would cause. He does not care if average Americans are harmed, including many in the Republican base. Not that I needed more evidence that he’s despicable.

    Will this convince Manchin and Sinema that the filibuster must be ditched or that the Senate must at least return to the talking filibuster that it once was — that it was for most of its history — in order to save the economy?

    1. Anonymous, here’s a little task for you. Google N.Y. times retractions. Spoiler alert. What you might find is bad things being said about your bible. While your at it do the same for CNN and the Washington Post. After you do so it will be understandable if you present yourself in sack cloth and ashes. Then again, if you only want to see what you want to see don’t bother.

      1. Thinkthrough,

        I never post from CNN so that source does not concern me.

        With regards to the NYT and WaPo, as two of the nation’s most prominent newspapers, they must retract any inaccuracies because their readers are influential and aware of mistakes. High profile newspapers have that responsibility.

        As a reader ‘I’ want to know about any inaccuracies I may have read. Journalists all over the country monitor those papers. ‘They’ would blow the whistle if those papers failed to retract mistakes. And mistakes are going to be made when papers strive to produce the most up to date coverage possible.

        But rightwing media is under no pressure to provide retractions. The average Fox News viewer is oblivious to inaccuracies. As long as the report sounds ‘truthful’ to them, they don’t need retractions. Other rightwing sources will stick to the same narrative. And serious journalists are more concerned with reporting than policing rightwing media. That would be a full-time job! In fact, Media Matters was launched largely for the purpose of documenting the distortions of rightwing media. The fact-checking sites were also created for that purpose.

        Thinkthrough, you often sound like the dumb guy who presumes everyone else is dumb. And that’s common for people in the rightwing bubble: they tend to be simpletons who think in simple terms. That’s why you call yourself ‘Thinkthrough’. You fancy yourself as a ‘deep thinker’ when you’re really a simpleton.

        Like the other day, for instance, I noted that the Citizens-United decision ushered in an age where billionaires are all powerful political lords. Then ‘you’ responded with some cluelessly patronizing comment about Jeff Bezos owning the Washington Post. Like that was supposed to make me coil with embarrassment! Like I was supposed to scramble in retracting my comment while ‘praising’ Citizens-United! Only a simpleton would expect me to react that way.

        I’m glad the Washington Post is owned by a man with the deepest pockets. Because newspapers are no longer profitable businesses. They haven’t been profitable since the 1990’s. All over the country legacy newspapers are going out of business and, or, operating with skeleton staffs. And the biggest markets are not immune.

        But despite my appreciation for WaPo coverage, I strongly believe that Jeff Bezos could be paying a whole lot more in taxes. Yet Trump’s 2017 tax cuts benefitted Bezos more than any one American. ..How stupid..! That tax cut was essentially a kickback to billionaire Republican donors. It was known Charles Koch pushed aggressively for those tax cuts. And, of course, Trump didn’t mind giving himself another tax break. Tax avoidance is Trump’s main concern according to those NYT articles Trump is now suing over (while ‘not’ disputing their findings).

    2. What the gist of the mater is with Anonymous’ postings on Trump law suits is that she/he just can’t stand that Trump has the money to fight back against those who present slander. In substantiation I offer RussiaGate. It is so stuck in Anonymous’ throat that she/he has to throw it up on these pages just so he/she can breath. He/she writes the same Trump bad man every day just as a dog returns to his own vomit. The N.Y. Times says it so and like a good boy/girl doggy she/he laps it up.

    3. “Republicans are united in opposition to raising the debt ceiling.”

      Good. They’re taking the already overdrawn credit card away from a bunch of spoiled children.

      The only “economic disaster” here is the runaway inflation caused by the Democrats’ profligate spending.

  2. More Lawsuits In News:

    Trump Sues New York Times Over Tax Reporting

    No Libel Alleged, Only Privacy Claims

    Former President Donald J. Trump has sued The New York Times and several of its reporters, along with one of its key sources – his niece, Mary – for obtaining tens of thousands of pages of his tax documents for an investigation into his finances that won a Pulitzer Prize.

    The articles, published in October 2018, concluded that Trump “participated in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud.”

    In a lawsuit filed in a New York state court in Dutchess County, the former president’s attorneys allege that Times reporter Suzanne Craig urged Mary Trump to break a legally binding agreement to keep those documents private as part of a larger settlement over his father’s estate. The other Times reporters sued for their involvement in the project were David Barstow and Russ Buettner.

    While Trump has threatened The Times with lawsuits in the past, this is the first time he has sued the paper in his name. The Trump Campaign sued The Times last year. That case was dismissed earlier this year.

    In the lawsuit filed Tuesday, Donald Trump’s attorneys claim that Craig and her Times colleagues had actively urged – that is, “procured” – Mary Trump’s search for the then-president’s past financial documents, purportedly putting the newspaper on the hook legally for his niece’s alleged violation of a legal pact to keep them confidential.

    Yet Trump made no claims of libel or defamation against the paper or Mary Trump in the suit. At the heart of this case are a breach of contract allegation against Mary Trump and a claim of tortious interference against the Times and its reporters, that is, that the newspaper knew it was explicitly seeking Trump’s niece to break her confidentiality agreement. Trump did not specify how his fortunes were harmed by the article.

    Edited From:

    Trump is ‘not’ disputing the content of NYT’s reporting which detailed a decades-long history of aggressive tax avoidance. Instead Trump is only focused on privacy claims regarding his niece’s questionable transfer of legal documents to the NYT. Yet NYT has stated they look forward to defending this suit. Meaning, perhaps, they would relish forcing Trump to admit, in court, that the NYT articles were factually accurate.

    1. NPR is not news and your Trump derangement is growing worse. Thinkingitthrough makes you look like the fool you are and is great entertainment

  3. I hope Nunes gets his win. Freedom of the press is not freedom to present knowingly false information as news. You would hope the News profession if it is to have any value would demand that credibility themselves.

  4. Speaking Of Lawsuits..

    Trump Campaign Knew Conspiracies Regarding Dominion And Smartmatic Were Bogus. Yet RNC headquarters Was Used As Venue For Conspiracy Claims.

    Two weeks after the 2020 election, a team of lawyers closely allied with Donald J. Trump held a widely watched news conference at the Republican Party’s headquarters in Washington. At the event, they laid out a bizarre conspiracy theory claiming that a voting machine company had worked with an election software firm, the financier George Soros and Venezuela to steal the presidential contest from Mr. Trump.

    But there was a problem for the Trump team, according to court documents released on Monday evening.

    By the time the news conference occurred on Nov. 19, Mr. Trump’s campaign had already prepared an internal memo on many of the outlandish claims about the company, Dominion Voting Systems, and the separate software company, Smartmatic. The memo had determined that those allegations were untrue.

    The court papers, which were initially filed late last week as a motion in a defamation lawsuit brought against the campaign and others by a former Dominion employee, Eric Coomer, contain evidence that officials in the Trump campaign were aware early on that many of the claims against the companies were baseless.

    The documents also suggest that the campaign sat on its findings about Dominion even as Sidney Powell and other lawyers attacked the company in the conservative media and ultimately filed four federal lawsuits accusing it of a vast conspiracy to rig the election against Mr. Trump.

    Edited from:

    It is incomprehensible to think that RNC headquarters was used to make such far-fetched claims. Yet now we learn that even Trump’s campaign knew these conspiracies were baseless. These revelations are essentially the last straw regarding ‘all’ claims Trump made regarding his defeat. One can only conclude that the entire effort was a blitzkrieg of lies to foment insurrection.

    1. NY Times along with with major networks are not reliable sources of information. Please, for the sake of what is left of our country, do your own research using non MSM sources. See Diana West dot net or sharyl attkisson dot com Our country is being decimated from within because journalism in MSM is non-existent and people like you can’t manage to think critically.

      1. Censornot,

        did you miss this part of the NYT story: “according to court documents released on Monday evening”.

        Are you telling us the NYT is lying and no court documents were released Monday evening? If indeed that is the case, rightwing media will nail the NYT on this. But hell is likely to freeze over before that ever happens.

        Or maybe you’re claiming Dominion Voting Systems is really based in Venezuela? As a loyal Trumper you might be obliged to uphold that conspiracy. But keep in mind that even Fox News had to back off that claim on the advice their lawyers.

        Or maybe you’re just another puppet for the blog stooge. And you’re reflexively dismissing the NYT as a matter of habit. You simply feel obliged to chime in however worthless your comment might be.

        1. did you miss this part of the NYT story: “according to court documents released on Monday evening”.
          i’m not chasing a NYT link. You are using ‘documents’ that have not been vetted. As we know, the media, and agencies, like the FBI forge documents all the time. The GWB National Guard ‘documents’ and the FBI FISA documents, and the post editing of 302’s are just three quick examples.
          We know Dominion voting machines were internet accessible, despite claims they could not be hacked.
          You are repeating exactly the same behaviour as the Russia hoax protocal. Smearing everything in site as battle field prep. The vast majority will believe the head line, never see the followup, 6 months later that “explains” what really happened.

          1. “i’m not chasing a NYT link.”

            So go directly to the court docket. Here’s the original lawsuit complaint to help you with the name and case #:

            You can also look at the document from attorney John Eastman to Mike Pence with Eastman’s strategy for Pence to steal the election for Trump during the congressional certification of the EC vote (a strategy that Pence rejected):

          2. “We know Dominion voting machines were internet accessible . . .”

            It is also probable that Dominion (via its parent company) received an investment of some $300 million from China, in the fall of 2020.

            Where’s the Federal investigation into that?

            And we also know that Dominion’s former Chief of Security, the revolting Eric Coomer, had the motive, means, and opportunity to rig voting.

            Where’s the Federal investigation into that?

    2. Anonymous says:

      “Speaking of Lawsuits..”

      My guess is that Turley won’t comment upon this devastating story since it further undermines his network’s claim that it had an absence of malice when it published the defamatory statements against Smartmatic and Dominion.

      It is telling, as you point out, that Fox News has ceased broadcasting these baseless conspiracy theories once they were sued. Had Fox done its due diligence and believed these claims reliable and well-founded, it would continue to invite the Trump lawyers and Lindell onto its prime time line-up. Instead, it has ceased journalistically advocating that the election was rigged.

      Also, there is the disturbing revelation about the Conservative lawyer, John Eastman, whose 6-page memo outlined how Pence could seize power to obstruct the electoral count. This too is a damning story which Turley is unlikely to discuss.

      Let’s hope he does not remain silent about these new developments as he did when Liz Cheney was cancelled by the Republican Party for exercising her freedom of speech in condemning Trump’s lying of his ignoring a judge sanctioning Trump’s lawyers for perpetuating a fraud on a district court by alleging baseless election narratives.

      Turley is exhibiting prejudice in which stories he will cover and which he will ignore.

      1. Jeff, have to go off topic here. For some reason this site will not allow me to reply to your statement in Sept 22 4:25 pm.
        Just so we are clear, If the baby is viable, and poses no threat to the mother’s health, aborting a VIABLE baby is murder?
        If that is your position we agree again.
        On your hypothetical involving a blood transfusion for Trump. You say you used Trump ( not his brain as the organ that needed a transplant) instead of Biden because you wanted to put the Trumpists in a dilemma. I propose that you did not use the brain as being the needed organ because if you used the brain of Biden in the hypothetical instead of Trump the dilemma would be moot. Biden does not have a functioning brain and there is not enough blood in the world to make it viable.
        Dinner offer holds

        1. Paul,

          I expect you to seriously answer my hypothetical. Does the woman have to involuntarily submit to having her body used to carry the life of Trump for 9 months even if unhooking herself would cause his death?

          1. No!!! Not for Trump or anyone else. Including myself. But can you please answer my question about a viable baby that is aborted, that poses no threat to the mother, as being murder?

            1. Paul,

              I would not be against a law criminalizing aborting a viable baby but neither would I push for it.

              1. Ok. Thanks again for a respectful and intelligent answer. I would interact with others on this blog if they had the same dignity as yourself.

  5. Hurray!!!

    This is one small step for Congressman Nunes and one giant leap for American politics.

    Now…whom does President Donald J. Trump sue?

  6. Just when you think Durham took forever to come up with one indictment (Sussman), this is a great article that explains what else he is likely going after.

    On what basis then was it likely determined by a court that the attorney-client privilege did not apply and Perkins Coie had to disclose the records? That is the proverbial “$64,000 Question” that we won’t know the answer to for some time. But the most likely justification for ordering production of the records to Durham was the “crime-fraud” exception to the Attorney-Client privilege.

    Simply stated, the exception applies when the communications or records at issue involve a future crime or fraud under consideration or a crime or fraud that is currently underway and continuing. The focus of the inquiry is on the client’s intent, not the attorney’s intent. The attorney-client privilege will be negated by the crime-fraud exception regardless of whether the attorney is aware of, or involved in, the client’s crime or fraud.

    Noteworthy is the fact that the exception only applies, and records or communications are not protected by the privilege, if the CLIENT is engaged in planning future crimes or frauds, or is seeking legal assistance in ongoing crimes or frauds.

    That means that if Durham obtained privileged records on the basis of the crime-fraud exception, whatever court sustained his subpoena would have done so because Durham demonstrated to the court’s satisfaction that the Clinton Campaign and Tech Executive-1 were themselves engaged in the criminal conduct along with Sussmann, their attorney.

    And maybe the DNC too. Think about that.

  7. Basically, the people who promote open borders, and the party who has let in over one million illegal aliens in less than a year, has taken issue that there might be illegal aliens working on a Nunes family-owned dairy farm, which Devin Nunes has no control over.

    That’s so crooked it could hide behind a corkscrew.

    Guess what, Democrat Party? When you let in illegal aliens, they have to make a living. That means either identity theft to receive benefits, and/or working illegally without visas, often for cash under the table. I have absolutely no idea who works on the Nunes family dairy. Between the water wars and the over regulation, operating any agricultural business in CA is an exercise in frustration, heart burn, and stress. The Deep Blue state politicians and voters just don’t want CA to be agricultural anymore.

    Look around you. Here in CA, entire industries have been taken over by cash under the table illegal aliens. Landscaping, nannies, equestrian facility workers, construction, painting, and housecleaning are industries that are now comprised of a high percentage of illegal aliens getting paid cash under the table. It becomes impossible for a bona fide company, licensed, bonded, insured, paying a decent wage with work comp to compete with a company that pays zero of that. They aren’t licensed, bonded, insured, have work comp, and since they pay cash, they can pay their workers less yet they take home more money, because no taxes are withheld.

    It’s so common that there are times when there are no employees on a job site speak a word of English. When the house falls down, they’ve topped and ruined all your trees, or the paint peels off the walls, they’re nowhere to be found.

    Voters are so generous with other people’s money when they keep voting to make employing people more and more expensive. Higher minimum wages, higher benefits, higher work comp. Yet when it comes time for these voters to spend their own money, they go with the lowest price, which is often illegal labor that enjoys none of these benefits and protections. It is the most entitled, hypocritical behavior.

    1. Why in the name of US Citizenship, do you chose to lay the illegal immigrate issue at the feet of the Democrats? Do you know anything about illegal immigrants? do you or have you personally ever met an illegal alien? had a conversation with one? Hired one? In my experience it is usually the deep pocketed Republican’s who are hiring undocumented immigrant for landscaping, domestic services like house cleaning and as nannies, as well as all sorts of labor intensive companies that are owned by republicans. What has never made sense to me is when people state as you are here “that bona fide company, licensed, bonded, insured, paying a decent wage with work comp to compete with a company that pays zero of that” that you use this as support of your argument that it is the democrat’s or the immigrant’s fault that this is happening. i heard many years ago about a cattleman in southeast Texas that hired one illegal immigrant at a time, he would pay them a decent wage and help them apply for citizenship, obtain a lawyer for immigration and once that process was over, would offer them a bonus after taking his cattle to market that year. they could take a bonus and leave, or stay and continue as before with one exception he must mentor/train the next incoming illegal alien. in late years i heard he would take as many as 5 illegal a year, and i guess that is why it is said that he aided or completely absorbed the cost of 300 illegal aliens in his lifetime. Please explain to me also, how exactly you can lie at the feet of the Democrats, that many hospitals as well as hotels use undocumented immigrants as the cleaning staff? The point is this is neither a party or right – wrong issue. it is a humanitarian issue.

      1. In my experience it is usually the deep pocketed Republican’s who are hiring undocumented immigrant for landscaping, domestic services like house cleaning and as nannies….

        Yeah, this isn’t the time to use politics. Bill Clinton sends his regrets.

        Zoe Baird was called President Bill Clinton’s “first blunder” by Time magazine after was revealed that the U.S. Attorney General nominee had hired illegals as a nanny and chauffeur. She withdrew herself from consideration.

        Lani Guinier was a Yale classmate of Clinton’s who was his choice to be Assistant Attorney General — that is until controversy about her views on “racial quotas” hit the papers. Also, she allegedly hired a domestic worker and failed to pay the person’s taxes

        Kimba Wood also got caught up in Clinton’s Nannygate. Another Attorney General nominee, she had hired a woman from Trinidad as a nanny in 1986 — before such employment was expressly outlawed. Still, the Clinton administration got cold feet and Wood withdrew her name from consideration

        In 1994 it was revealed that Sen. Dianne Feinstein hired an undocumented Guatemalan woman as a housekeeper in the 1980s.

        – LA Weekly, 2010

        I agree it is a humanitarian issue. As others on this forum know, I am an immigrant. I earned 2 graduate professional degrees solo, and established my career. I later sponsored 2 Cubans years later. Today they run and own their own business, are married with children and vote. They write me every Christmas.

        So tell us Dena, what do you do for immigrants. Me encantaría saber.

      2. Dena:

        I live in CA. Of course I know illegal aliens. Some of my friends are illegal aliens who’ve lived here for years. There are illegal alien kids at my son’s schools, some of whom just arrived without speaking a word of English. I have no problem with the legal immigrants themselves, only the policies that convinced them that this was OK. Democrat politicians are encouraging illegal immigration.

        I don’t think it’s the illegal immigrants’ fault, exactly, that they are paid under the table, and therefore drive legitimate businesses out of business. Getting paid under the table is the predictable consequence of illegal immigration, and reason #438 for why all immigration needs to go through legal channels, in reasonable and well managed quantities. Again, the blame is on those setting the policies that allow unfettered mass illegal immigration, not with the people who take them up on it. People hire illegal immigrants because the labor is cheap, legal workers won’t work for those low wages (see wage depression), and in some cases, entire industries are now comprised mostly of illegal immigrants, so there aren’t many choices. Further, identity theft is rampant among illegal immigrants, so employers sometimes are not aware of their status.

        Why do I lay the problem of illegal immigration at the feet of Democrats? Because they fight tooth and nail against preventing illegal immigration. Building a wall was xenophobic, unless that wall was razor wire around the Capitol or around the gated community where politicians live. Biden reversed Trump’s policy of fighting illegal immigration, which led to a tsunami of illegal immigrants.

        Take a few minutes, and look up interviews with illegal aliens who claim that Biden told them to come. That’s why there are 15,000 Haitians at the border of Del Paso. They think they won’t be flown back to Haiti.

        Any effort to stop illegal immigration, so that all immigration had to go through the legal process, was deemed racist and xenophobic by the Democrat Party.

        Deep blue states like CA provide a great many benefits to illegal aliens, which also serves as an inducement for them to break federal immigration law. I don’t blame anyone for immigrating here illegally. Our country has sent the message that this is OK. It’s not their fault they took us up on that. But that’s irresponsible, and needs to change.

        Why do Democrats favor illegal immigration, and fight so hard to keep them flooding the border? Because when they have children here, who are born citizens, those kids grow up to vote Democrat, the party that would allow more and more illegal immigration. When illegal aliens are granted amnesty, they tend to vote Democrat.

        Democrats’ position on illegal immigration is a means to get an astronomical voting advantage. We can see the political natured of their policy when we consider their adamant refusal to accept many Venezuelan refugees, who actually would qualify for amnesty based on persecution for criticizing their government. Venezuelans suffered under socialism, and would vote Republican, so the Democrats in power block them whenever possible.

        You said in your experience, it’s usually rich Republicans who hire illegals.

        I live in deep Blue CA, the home of Hollywood. Illegals have completely taken over the industries I mentioned. You bet Democrats from the middle class to wealthy actors hired illegal aliens.

        You know what’s funny is when some of the Latino illegal immigrants that I know express displeasure at all the other nationalities surging across the border. Those who live close to our country feel entitled to illegally immigrate, but they generally don’t feel that the rest of the world deserves that privilege.

        1. Karen complains that illegal immigrants
          “are paid under the table.”

          I trust you approve of the prosecution of Allen Weisselberg for getting paid under the table as it were for accepting perks in lieu of reported compensation.

      3. I have legally (I-9) hired non citizens, Mexicans, Afghani refugees. I have lived my whole life in border states and for a time on the border. They pay taxes and contribute to Social Security. They also get a good deal of help in the way of housing, Medicaid, SNAP etc. if a person pays an undocumented worker more than 600 dollars (1099-Misc) they must report it to the IRS. If they do not, they are coming a tax crime.

        Few Americans I know are against immigration if done properly. A part of my family went through the legal process and we’re proud of their accomplishments. They were and are proud Americans.

        Running down the border by the millions is not the way to do it. Drugs are flowing freely, human trafficking and diverse criminal activities are at unprecedented levels. What we have now is chaos.

        We must get past malignant tribalism. This is not a binary choice. It is not a Republican or Democratic problem. However, the current administration has chosen to ignore the advise of the professionals who stand watch on our border and have created this unprecedented crisis. To what end?

  8. The ploy for years has been for the press to fabricate stories, for the goal of influencing elections. They just make stuff up at this point. By the time they bury a correction on page 16, the target’s character is assassinated, dead, and the funeral’s been held on his or her reputation. Mission accomplished.

    1. i know far far more Republicans who engage in this type of behavior, the only difference is that they like the school yard bully are stealth at getting there hand back into their pocket before the teacher can see who punched whom.

    2. Karen says:

      “The ploy for years has been for the press to fabricate stories, for the goal of influencing elections. They just make stuff up at this point.”

      You mean Fox News/Newsmax/OAN/Infowars pushing Trump’s fabrication that the election was stolen? Something a recent revelation shows that Trump’s enablers knew early on was just made up?

  9. Gore Vidal wrote “It is the spirit of the age to believe that any fact, no matter how suspect, is superior to any imaginative exercise, no matter how true. “ ‘French Letters: Theories of the New Novel ‘Encounter 1967.
    Slander: as a Noun and Verb, comes directly from the lefts playbook meaning ‘Governance’. Eubulides of Miletus, Liar Paradox, is also a fitting description using falsehoods to promote an imaginative utopian view.
    This action is well past due, the continued provocations and lies have to be stopped.

    1. my reading and interpretation of this quote from ‘French Letters: Theories of the New Novel ‘Encounter 1967’ is in direct opposition to your thinking. but, okay?

      1. Regarding Vidal’s statement, the question is the difference if any between FACT and TRUTH.

        A truthful statement does not necessary equate to fact, but in the inverse fact always equates to truth.

        Truth is subjective, and viewed through the lens of our senses, beliefs and other perceptions. Fact is demonstrably provable regardless of perceptions or beliefs.

    1. The picture of Macron standing at the UN wagging his finger at Biden, who is seated looking feeble and defenseless, priceless.

      More awkward diplomacy by the Biden administration has plunged relations with a key ally to a worrying low

      For Mr Biden it represents another foreign policy failure hard on the heels of the Afghanistan withdrawal debacle, and a further damaging blow to his claim to be a champion of US alliances.

      Disillusion has been spreading quickly from Paris to other European capitals.

      1. I listened to most of Biden’s address to the UN. I thought he started out vigorous, but declined rapidly, stumbling over words.

        He informed the world that we would reserve our military might as a last resort. Much of his early speech gave the impression that we wouldn’t do much to stop bad behavior. It came from a position of weakness.

        I am also disappointed that we’re lending legitimacy to the UN Human Rights Council. When China has a seat in the midst of the genocide, torture, and systemic rape of the Uyghur, the entire council is a farce.

        Biden was waiving a white flag with trembling hands in front of hostile nations eager for our demise.

        As for Europe, they hated brash, bourgeois Trump. Well, now they have Biden with his smooth smile and prepared notes. Perhaps they will have a cathartic moment and realize policy matters far more than personal traits of the one who sets it.

        1. If you haven’t already, consider reading Peggy Noonan’s When Character Was King: A Story of Ronald Reagan

          We desperately need a leader like Reagan where even his opponents melted because he had that ability. Noonan is at her best in this book. Considering the presidents since Reagan, they are getting successively worse on a logarithmic scale with every election. Perhaps I understate. America deserves better.

          1. “successively worse on a logarithmic scale” is an ever-slowing worsening, concave down, where the further out you go, the more negligible the difference.

        2. Karen says:

          “As for Europe, they hated brash, bourgeois Trump.”

          No, they despised an incompetent lying braggart with a 5 minute attention span. How is it that the majority of individuals who have worked for him have said as much?

        3. Biden’s speech snip:

          “Around the world, we’re increasingly seeing citizens demonstrate their discontent seeing the wealthy and well-connected grow richer and richer, taking payoffs and bribes, operating above the law while the vast majority of the people struggle to find a job or put food on the table or to get their business off the ground or simply send their children to school.“

          The VAST MAJORITY of people struggle to FIND A JOB?

  10. Jonathan: Devin Nunes, a big Trump supporter, has long been dogged with accusations he used undocumented workers at his Tulane, Calif. farm. He moved the farm to Iowa without publicly acknowledging the move. The Eight Circuit generally agreed with the circuit court in dismissing Nunes’ defamation suit against the reporter and only remanded the case to consider claims the reporter committed defamation by tweeting out a link to the original article. Time will tell whether the case will have “enormous implications” (your words) for defamation law.

    Nunes is infamous, not because of his defamation suit, but because he was one of GOP’s biggest supporters of Trump’s conspiracy theory that it was Hillary Clinton who colluded with Russians to dig up dirt on Trump in the 2016 campaign. No evidence has come to light to prove collusion by the Clinton campaign. Trump hoped that the John Durham investigation would get the “goods” on Clinton. So far Durham has only brought one unrelated indictment of an individual for lying to an FBI official. That’s it. No proof of “collusion” as Trump/ Barr hoped. (See your previous column on the Sussmann indictment).

    But now comes another more important DOJ indictment that may prove the opposite of what you and your buddy Bill Barr hoped and expected.. It is an indictment that would never have been brought under Trump/Barr. Jesse Benton, campaign staffer for Sens. Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell, has just been charged with channeling money from a Russian national into the Trump 2016 campaign. According to the indictment Benton received $100,000 from the Russian national with a promise of a meeting with Trump. The Russian did attend the Trump campaign event but it is not known whether he actually met with Trump. It should be noted Benton was previously convicted in 2016 on campaign finance violation charges. He was later pardoned by Trump. So the Durham indictment may fade into obscurity in comparison to the indictment against Benson. If proved the indictment will show there WAS a scheme to funnel Russian money into the Trump campaign. Do you, Dirham and Barr have egg on your faces?

    1. Dennis Dear Boy, Please do keep up with current events and deal with the facts as they are….not as you wish them to be.

      How many sources do you. have to have before you finally accept there was NO Russia Collusion by Trump, his family, or his Campaign?

      How many times must you be reminded the FBI and CIA amongst other Federal Agencies that all of the Russia Collusion scheme was done by Hillary, her Campaign, her hired gang of Lawyers (including Sussmann and his Law Firm including Marc Elias).

      The CIA and FBI both told Obama of that fact….and Obama as the Senior most Law Enforcement Official in the Country did nothing to stop it.

      In time Durham shall lay it all out for folks like you….and you shall not like what he reports or when he takes more folks to Court.

      1. Chappell says:

        “In time Durham shall lay it all out for folks like you….and you shall not like what he reports or when he takes more folks to Court.”

        The Durham investigation is a Witch Hunt!

        W_I_T_C_H H_U_N_T

        Just like the Mueller Investigation.

    2. Dennis said, “Nunes is infamous, not because of his defamation suit, but because he was one of GOP’s biggest supporters of Trump’s conspiracy theory that it was Hillary Clinton who colluded with Russians to dig up dirt on Trump in the 2016 campaign. No evidence has come to light to prove collusion by the Clinton campaign.”

      Apparently, you haven’t read this: (

      “The 26-page indictment of former cybersecurity attorney and Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann by special counsel John Durham is as detailed as it is damning on the alleged effort to push a false Russia collusion claim before the 2016 presidential campaign. One line, however, seems to reverberate for those of us who have followed this scandal for years now: “You do realize that we will have to expose every trick we have in our bag.”

      That warning from an unnamed “university researcher” captures the most fascinating aspect of the indictment in describing a type of Nixonian dirty tricks operation run by — or at least billed to — the Clinton campaign. Fifty years ago, Nixon’s personal attorney and the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP) paid for operatives to engage in disruptive and ultimately criminal conduct targeting his opponents. With Clinton, the indictment and prior disclosures suggest that Clinton campaign lawyers at the law firm of Perkins Coie helped organize an effort to spread Russia collusion stories and trigger an investigation.

      Durham accuses Sussmann of lying to the general counsel of the FBI in September 2016 when Sussmann delivered documents and data to the FBI supposedly supporting a claim that Russia’s Alfa Bank was used as a direct conduit between former President Trump‘s campaign and the Kremlin. According to Durham, Sussman told the FBI general counsel that he was not delivering the information on behalf of any client. The indictment not only details multiple billings to the Clinton campaign as the data was collected and the documents created; it claims Sussman billed the campaign for the actual meeting with the FBI. At the time, Perkins Coie attorney Marc Elias was general counsel for the Clinton campaign. Both men have since left the firm.

      The big trick in 2016 was the general effort to create a Russia collusion scandal with the help of Justice Department insiders and an eager, enabling media.

      It was only last October, for instance, that we learned that then-President Obama was briefed by his CIA director, John Brennan, on an intelligence report that Clinton planned to tie then-candidate Trump to Russia as “a means of distracting the public from her use of a private email server.” That was on July 28, 2016 — three days before the Russia investigation was initiated…

      According to Durham, the Alfa Bank allegation fell apart even before Sussmann delivered it to the FBI. The indictment details how an unnamed “tech executive” allegedly used his authority at multiple internet companies to help develop the ridiculous claim. (The executive reportedly later claimed that he was promised a top cyber security job in the Clinton administration). Notably, there were many who expressed misgivings not only within the companies working on the secret project but also among unnamed “university researchers” who repeatedly said the argument was bogus.

      The researchers were told they should not be looking for proof but just enough to “give the base of a very useful narrative.” The researchers argued, according to the indictment, that anyone familiar with analyzing internet traffic “would poke several holes” in that narrative, noting that what they saw likely “was not a secret communications channel with Russian Bank-1, but ‘a red herring,’” according to the indictment. “Researcher-1” repeated these doubts, the indictment says, and asked, “How do we plan to defend against the criticism that this is not spoofed traffic we are observing? There is no answer to that. Let’s assume again that they are not smart enough to refute our ‘best case scenario.’ You do realize that we will have to expose every trick we have in our bag to even make a very weak association.”

      “Researcher-1” allegedly further warned, “We cannot technically make any claims that would fly public scrutiny. The only thing that drives us at this point is that we just do not like [Trump]. This will not fly in eyes of public scrutiny. Folks, I am afraid we have tunnel vision. Time to regroup?””

      1. Russia wanted the US destabilized and weakened. It promoted Bernie Sanders. It helped Hilary Clinton with the dossier, which dogged Trump throughout his Presidency. The plan worked, as the useful idiots and the willfully blind continue to promote the Russiagate Hoax.

        As for foreign businesspeople and foreign nationals contributing to PACs and social media…oops, Democrats are ONCE AGAIN guilty of what they have accused Republicans of doing.

        “A businessman who helped broker a meeting between an ally of President Donald Trump and an official of the Russian government has been indicted for allegedly funneling millions in illegal campaign contributions to support Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.

        George Nader, who was charged in another case earlier this year with child trafficking and transporting child pornography, was one of seven people named in an indictment unsealed in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday night involving the campaign payments.

        Nader, 60, is charged with funneling money to Ahmad “Andy” Khawaja, 48, of Los Angeles in order to circumvent federal election laws that restrict the amount of donations from a specific individual and where that money is actually coming from, prosecutors say.

        The indictment alleges that Nader was reporting to a middle eastern government throughout the period.

        From “March 2016 through January 2017, Khawaja conspired with Nader to conceal the source of more than $3.5 million in campaign contributions, directed to political committees associated with a candidate for President of the United States in the 2016 election,” the Department of Justice said in a press release.

        “Khawaja and Nader allegedly made these contributions in an effort to gain influence with high-level political figures, including the candidate.”

        The indictment doesn’t name the specific campaign but includes text messages from Nader to an official from the foreign country saying, “Had a terrific meeting with my Big Sister H. You will be most delighted.” In addition, the timing of the events and fundraisers matches Clinton campaign events.”

        1. “A Russian businessman who once led the financial services of a military unit at the Leningrad Naval base funneled thousands of dollars to a Trump Super PAC and other Republican entities in 2016, Forensic News can reveal. On Monday, the Department of Justice indicted two veteran GOP operatives, Doug Wead and Jesse Benton, for disguising the true source of funds of donations made in 2016. Now, Forensic News can report that the unnamed “Foreign National 1” in the indictment is Roman Vasilenko, a reserve naval officer whose resume, according to analysts, appears suspicious and suggests a relationship with Russian intelligence.”

          1. And in other news, Russians have taken active measures creating anti-American think tanks, employing many American academics. The DOC promotes such propaganda as decolonizing American education, that the US is a racist country, and other propaganda intended to weaken the US.


            Foreign business owners and interests have donated to the Clinton Foundation, paid for Bill Clinton speeches until his wife lost the election, and donate to the Democrat Party.

            “Veteran GOP operatives” means they were activists. They are accused of campaign finance violation of thousands of dollars. George Nadar was indicted for millions of illegal donations to Democrat campaigns while working for a Middle Eastern government. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison for child sex offenses in 2020.

            The law should apply equally, regardless of political affiliation, which is immaterial. Or it should be. Democrats appear to have created a government ruling class above the law.

            It appears Nadar was trying to become a power broker. Funny thing is, although he’s been indicted for concealing millions of dollars given to Hillary Clinton, that information is buried in the story. The headlines read “Trump campaign liaison indicted.” Those journalists are absolutely determined to shield the Democrat Party. Even when they have to report on alleged Democrat crimes, they write headlines that pretend it’s all about Trump. Their credibility is total garbage.

          2. In your article, you “ forgot” to post:
            “ There is no allegation of wrongdoing on behalf of Vasilenko, Trump, or any other individuals or entities besides Wead and Benton.”

        1. The FBI is required to make extensive notes of such interviews. Of course we would never suspect Lawfare of putting up another smokescreen. Lawfare is the MSNBS of the law profession.

          1. FBI Agents carry out formal interviews in pairs. This was not such an interview. The FBI General Counsel was alone when he met with Sussman, and the GC was questioned under oath about that meeting in a congressional hearing. Why should anyone take your word over his?

    3. What a comical comment, coming as it does days after Durham has laid out pretty explicitly in black and white legal documents, a description chock full of citations describing exactly the conspiracy you claim there is zero evidence of.
      The lie Sussman is accused of telling is denying he was working for any particular client when he was pressing the FBI to investigate Alpha Bank, when he in fact billed the Clinton Campaign [and possibly FusionGPS] for those very hours. Immediately after this setup that was transmitted to Franklin Foer and some other dope and published by them, Hillary Clinton crowed about Trump’s scandalous behavior that her own lawyer had concocted and hand delivered to the FBI and the prostituted press.
      I don’t think unrelated means what you think it means.

  11. “……As such, the statements do no need to be individually defamatory by creates defamatory meaning in the juxtaposing of fact or omitting facts.” Counselor/Professor Turley, Is this sentence coderrant or am I missing somtething? not vice no and but vice by helps somewhat. But your review & clarification will be appreciated, TIA -a-

    1. Only a brilliant constitution lawyer would debate prof, Turley’ and perhaps not seem incoherent’ you sir are not even close

    2. Andrew,

      Disregard Anonymous, which ever Anonymous this may be, You are correct that his sentence is jumbled, I believe that it should read “As such, the statements do not need to be individually defamatory to create defamatory meaning in the juxtaposing of fact or omitting facts.”

  12. Interesting ruling indeed.

    Worth noting, that beyond the issue of malice intent, which particularly stemming from republication, there is also the issue of sort of implicit malice (or not) by not verifying, verifiable facts in that story.

    One may argue, that once one journalist could verify verifiable facts by nature, but had avoided or failed to do so, it would be considered as sort of actual malice based upon the definition of malice ruled in the supreme court, I quote:

    ” with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not”

    Now, in that case, the circuit court, concluded, that the facts were verifiable, yet, verification has been ignored by the author of the article, I quote:

    Lizza and Hearst also assert that the alleged implication is not verifiable. But the important facts can be confirmed or refuted. Nunes alleges that the article implies the existence of a “politically explosive secret” that he “conspired with others” to hide the farm’s use of undocumented labor. A conspiracy is an agreement that requires knowledge—here, knowledge that the farm employed undocumented labor and a knowing agreement to cover up that politically embarrassing fact. Yet the Congressman’s complaint says that he was “not involved” in the farm’s “operations, had “no knowledge of who the dairy farm hired,” and thus “was not involved in any conspiracy or cover-up.” Whether Nunes knew about the farm’s hiring practices, including the potential use of undocumented labor, and whether he agreed with others to keep that information secret, are issues of verifiable fact. We thus conclude that the implication is “sufficiently factual to be susceptible of being proved true or false,” so it is not a protected opinion. Milkovich, 497 U.S. at 21.

    End of quotation:

    As such, one may argue, that, it is malicious conduct. For, if could be proved true or false in advance, yet, ignored, and if ethically, that is the profession of the author ( being journalist, expert as such in conducting investigations of such) then, what is the point of being journalist ? Investigating, and verifying facts etc…. This is fundamental necessity. Once ignored, and yet, could be done, it does match the definition of malice, as ruled and cited above by the supreme court:

    “with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not”


  13. “Lizza tweeted the article in November 2019 after Nunes filed this lawsuit and denied the article’s implication. The pleaded facts are suggestive enough to render it plausible that Lizza, at that point, engaged in “the purposeful avoidance of the truth.” Harte-Hanks, 491 U.S. at 692.”
    Ya think? I’d be writing a settlement check. On the public figure aspect, I’ve often wondered if you were defamed in your private status as say a farmer and not in your public status as say a public official, does NYT v. Sullivan apply? Maybe JT knows. Judge Mark is ruling: Nah.

  14. It is imperative that those slandered confront the slanderer directly. It is refreshing to see him do just that. I hope he wins and that his case sets a legal precedent.

    The media’s decent into moral bankruptcy has been heartbreaking, making it more challenging for citizens to find reliable information. They were once the watchdogs and now they have sold their soul. For what?

      1. Anonymous, you can dream it if you like but not every case is the same. Read it and weep.

        1. No one suggested that they’re all the same. I was responding to EM’s comment that “It is imperative that those slandered confront the slanderer directly. It is refreshing to see him do just that.” Nunes has been doing this for quite a while, so it’s only refreshing to those who haven’t been following the multiple cases.

          I’m surprised that you get weepy over court cases.

          1. A fitting settlement in a court case such as Nick Sandman’s fight against CNN and Washington Post was quite satisfying. I don’t recall shedding any tears but it wiped the smirk off their faces.

            I get what Professor Turley is saying about a public figure. They wanted the job? They have to run the gauntlet.

            If the press has a solid case, I think they should drag elected officials (both parties) through the coals.

            What we see now is the media managers calling off reporters after getting pressured by the WH or powerful individuals who can withhold interviews or make life hell for the reporter who wants to get to the bottom of a story that does not fit a prescribed narrative. On the other hand we also see reporters simply make things up or do not bother to check the facts.

            If he stands up to them and they cannot make a case, shouldn’t the courts send a message to those too lazy to research a subject to completion or who lie with impunity?

            I might shed a couple of tears for that.

  15. Our system of checks and balances is surviving (barely) thanks to the judicial branch. It will be interesting to see if they can actually save the country.

    1. It will be interesting to see if they can actually save the country.
      A country will be saved. Waiting to see if it will be a constitutional republic

  16. “As such, the statements do no need to be individually defamatory by creates defamatory meaning in the juxtaposing of fact or omitting facts.”

    Another beautifully unedited sentence…

  17. Appears to me that the threshold for actual malice, i.e., “knowledge of its falsity or a reckless disregard of the truth” is pretty evident here.

  18. Pendulum swung hard to the left and generated pushback.


    Let’s make sure that we don’t lose rights/protection during the backstroke.

    Pendulums tend to overcorrect.

    1. Yeah, that’s been our problem for the last 100 years of the progressive march to a Leviathan Federal government virtually unchecked by Constitutional restraints and sticking its nose into every nook and cranny of state and local government’s proper purview and our personal lives; the pendulum swinging too far in the opposite direction.
      It has swung no further than back to the middle in reaction to progressive overreach every time it has swung, which of course means its arc has been traveling ever leftward that entre time.
      But I don’t fault the Dems or the progs nearly so much as the feckless, gormless GOP that has done almost nothing to promote or enact true Constitutional limits to Federal power grabs.
      That wouldn’t be prudent. So we’ve had 100 years of diffident prog-lite instead. You can’t swing the pendulum to the right if you’re too polite [chicken] to grab a hold of it and give it a push..

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