“I’m coming to clean up the mess.”
House Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes, R-C.A., filed a $150 million lawsuit against The McClatchy Company Monday, alleging that one of the company’s reporters conspired to derail his investigation into the Hillary Clinton campaign.
The lawsuit comes after Nunes filed a similar $250 million lawsuit alleging defamation against Republican consultant Liz Mair. The new lawsuit also named Mair as a co-defendant, alleging she conspired with McClatchy reporter MacKenzie Mays to smear Nunes, including accusations he was involved with cocaine and underage prostitutes.
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In a Monday appearance on Fox News, Nunes said the media was trying silence conservatives.
“They need to retract everything they did against me, but they also need to come clean with the American people,” Nunes said. “Retract all of their fake news stories. This is part of the broader clean-up. Remember, a few weeks ago, I filed against Twitter — they’re censoring conservatives. McClatchy is one of the worst offenders of this. But we’re coming after the rest of them. I think people are beginning to wake up now, I’m serious — I’m coming to clean up the mess.”
“I’m serious. I’m coming to clean up all of the mess. So, if you’re out there and you lied and you defamed, we’re going to come after you.” – @DevinNunes
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) April 9, 2019
At issue was an article written by Mays for the Fresno Bee entitled, “A yacht, cocaine, prostitutes: Winery partly owned by Nunes sued after fundraiser event.”
The article, which reported on a 2015 lawsuit, described a party aboard a yacht featuring “25 of the Napa Valley-based [Alpha Omega Winery]’s top investors, all men — [who] were openly using what appeared to be cocaine and ‘drawing straws’ for which sex worker to hire.”
Mays tweeted a link to the article, mentioning Nunes in the sentence “cocaine and underage sex workers.”
Nunes says the event in question wasn’t a fundraiser at all, but a party to celebrate a charitable donation. The complaint alleges Mays was aware Nunes had nothing to do with the event.
“The McClatchy headline intentionally omitted the word ‘charity’ and labeled the event a ‘fundraiser’ in a clear effort to imply it was a political fundraising event that a politician like Congressman Nunes would naturally attend,” the complaint says.
Additionally, Nunes alleges a line in the story stating that it was “unclear” if Nunes was “affiliated with the fundraiser” was also false. Nunes said the winery made clear to McClatchy that he was not affiliated with the event.
The complaint says that “online versions of the story are punctuated by a prominent picture of Nunes and multiple film clips of him,” intentionally implying that Nunes was involved in the event.
The complaint alleges the article was an intentional attempt to interfere with his work to investigate Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
“The purpose of the concerted defamation campaign was to cause immense pain, intimidate, interfere with and divert Nunes’ attention from his investigation of corruption and alleged Russian involvement in the 2016 Presidential Election,” the complaint says.
“The attacks on Nunes were pre-planned, calculated, orchestrated and undertaken by multiple individuals acting in concert, over a continuous period of time throughout 2018,” it continues. “The full scope of the conspiracy, including the names of all participants and the level of involvement of any agents or instrumentalities of foreign governments, is unknown at this time and will be the subject of discovery in this action.”
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