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Trump defamation suit accuses CNN of escalating slander against him over 'fears' he will run in 2024

The former president accused CNN of maliciously making false and defamatory statements about him. He is seeking $475 million in punitive damages.
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Former President Donald Trump sued CNN alleging defamation on Monday, accusing the news network of taking persistent actions aimed at "defeating him politically."

According to the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for Southern Florida, Trump alleged CNN has maliciously made false and defamatory statements about him. He is seeking $475 million in punitive damages, as well as compensatory damages to be determined at trial.

"Beyond simply highlighting any negative information about the Plaintiff and ignoring all positive information about him, CNN has sought to use its massive influence—purportedly as a 'trusted' news source—to defame the Plaintiff in the minds of its viewers and readers for the purpose of defeating him politically," Trump lawyers Lindsey Halligan and James M. Trusty wrote in the 29-page complaint.

"CNN’s campaign of dissuasion in the form of libel and slander against the Plaintiff has only escalated in recent months as CNN fears the Plaintiff will run for president in 2024," they added.

Trump hasn’t said yet whether he will run for president again.

Trump's lawyers alleged in the lawsuit that CNN has used both false and defamatory labels against the former president, including “racist,” “Russian lackey” and “insurrectionist.” His attorneys also referred to what they said was "CNN’s persistent association of the Plaintiff to Adolf Hitler and Nazism."

According to the lawsuit, CNN refused Trump’s request in July to retract 34 articles and TV segments he considered defamatory and wouldn’t comply with demands that it stop referring to his false claims about the outcome of the 2020 presidential election as “lies.”

Trump's lawyers argued that using the term “Big Lie” in relation to Trump was part of a "deliberate effort by CNN to propagate to its audience an association between the Plaintiff and one of the most repugnant figures in modern history" — Hitler.

"By publication of these defamatory statements, CNN has incited readers and viewers to hate, contempt, distrust, ridicule, and even fear the Plaintiff, causing injury to the Plaintiff, the Plaintiff's reputation, and the Plaintiff’s political career," Trump's lawyers wrote.

Former President Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., on Sept. 3.Mary Altaffer / AP file

A spokesperson for CNN told NBC News that the network doesn’t plan to comment on the lawsuit.

Trump said in a statement that “in the coming weeks and months” he intends to sue “a large number” of other news organizations. He didn’t specify which companies he would target.

Monday's lawsuit comes weeks after a federal judge in Florida dismissed Trump’s racketeering lawsuit against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others, including ABC, former FBI Director James Comey and Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks issued a scathing ruling in that case, calling Trump's lawsuit a 200-page “political manifesto outlining his grievances against those that have opposed him."