Fighting Back: White House Official Files $25 Million Lawsuit Against Politico
The White House war against the twin demons of impeachment and fake news came together in a single battle strike on Monday when a top Trump aide filed a lawsuit against Politico, accusing the news outlet of joining forces with Rep. Adam Schiff to plant inaccurate stories on their site.
The suit, filed by the National Security Council’s Kash Patel, is looking for $25 million in damages from Politico based on the outlet’s description of his “lying, deceit, and unethical conduct.”
Central to the lawsuit is Politico reporter Natasha Bertrand, who wrote two stories in October naming Patel, a former aide to Congressman Devin Nunes, as one of the chief people inside the White House delivering Ukraine information to President Donald Trump.
Fox News explains the heart of the suit:
The suit stems from Bertrand’s Oct. 23 story, headlined “Nunes Protege Fed Ukraine Info to Trump.” Patel previously worked for Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, spearheading the Intel Committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, before joining the White House in February.
The Politico piece said Patel “was among those passing negative information about Ukraine to President Donald Trump earlier this year, fueling the president’s belief that Ukraine was brimming with corruption and interfered in the 2016 election on behalf of Democrats.”
Patel was “so involved in the issue,” the story said, that “at one point Trump thought he was in charge of Ukraine policy for the National Security Council.” This was attributed to closed-door House testimony by Fiona Hill,” a former NSC official. What’s more, Politico said, “Patel’s involvement demonstrates that the president had at least some support for the scheme from within the NSC” — the scheme being to pressure Ukraine into investigations that would help Trump politically.
But Patel and his lawyers say this reporting lacks factual merit, claiming that the NatSec adviser “at no time communicated on any matters involving Ukraine.”
In addition to going hard after Politico and Bertrand, the lawsuit spares nothing when it comes to Schiff. The lawsuit accused Politico of working “in concert” with Schiff to publish leaked information from the closed-door impeachment hearings, all of which was meant to “destroy Kash’s reputation” and give power to “Schiff’s baseless Ukrainian quid pro quo hoax.”
In a statement to Fox News, Politico said, “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.”
However this lawsuit turns out, it puts the mainstream media on notice: If you print fake, biased news against members of this administration, you will have to defend your reporting in court. If Politico can prove they were on firm factual ground when they went to press with these stories, so much the better. If they can’t…well, then they deserve to be sued.