Congressman Devin Nunes is suing MSNBC after alleging “spiteful” host Rachel Maddow repeatedly smeared him on air by accusing him of treason and obstruction of justice.
The California Republican, 47, who has had three lawsuits against other outlets thrown out in the last year, filed the defamation lawsuit in Texas on Tuesday.
He claims Maddow and MSNBC have shown “hostility, hatred, extreme bias, spite and ill-will” in their coverage of him, the suit says.
Nunes argues he’s being targeted because he has emerged as “the most prominent skeptic in Congress of Maddow’s marquee news narrative from 2017 to 2019: that the Trump campaign colluded with Russians to hack the 2016 presidential elections.”
In the lawsuit, Nunes specifically took issue with comments Maddow made during her March 18 show where she claimed the Congressman had refused to hand a package he’d received from a suspected Russian agent to the FBI — a claim he refutes.
“Congressman Nunes has refused to answer questions about what he received from Andriy Derkach. He has refused to show the contents of the package to other members of the intelligence community,” Maddow said on air, according to the suit.
“He has refused to hand it over to the FBI which is what you should do if you get something from somebody who is sanctioned by the US as a Russian agent.”
Nunes claims MSNBC and Maddow knew he’d told other reporters he had given the package to the FBI.
He argues that MSNBC did not go to him for comment prior to airing the claims, which Nunes claims is proof of malice.
Nunes says Maddow’s on-air statements falsely accuse him of treason and obstruction of justice, adding that they were “republished millions of times on the Internet and via social media” after she tweeted them.
Maddow tweeted at the time: “How do Republicans keep Devin Nunes on as the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee given his unexplained interactions with Andriy Derkach?”
He’s asking for a jury to determine unspecified damages for what Nunes argues is “insult, pain, embarrassment, humiliation, mental suffering and injury to his reputation.”
Nunes is no stranger to filing defamation lawsuits against media outlets.
Most recently, a federal judge in New York tossed a $435 million lawsuit Nunes had filed against CNN in February that argued the outlet intentionally published a false article saying he was involved in efforts to get “dirt” on then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
CNN argued Nunes had not responded to comment prior to publication.
The lawsuit was thrown out on the basis that Nunes did not request an immediate retraction.
Nunes also sued Twitter for $250 million in March 2019 after accusing the social networking giant of censoring conservative content. In the suit, he named two parody accounts — “Devin Nunes’ Cow” and “Devin Nunes’ Mom” — that mocked him and promoted Democratic candidates.
The lawsuit was tossed in June last year after a judge ruled social media companies cannot be held liable for what others post on the platform.
MSNBC has not commented on Nunes’ lawsuit.