Rep. Devin Nunes has filed a defamation lawsuit in federal court over remarks liberal MSNBC host Rachel Maddow made on her TV show about the California Republican and Ukrainian politician Andrii Derkach.
Lawyers for Mr. Nunes sued MSNBC’s parent company for defamation Tuesday, placing NBCUniversal on the receiving end of the latest in a growing list of similar claims pursued by the congressman in court.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, takes issue with several comments made by the New York-based host of “The Rachel Maddow Show” in an episode that aired March 18.
Ms. Maddow said during a segment that Mr. Nunes received a package in late 2019 from Mr. Derkach, a suspected Russian spy, and claimed that he refused to share its contents with proper federal authorities.
Lawyers for Mr. Nunes acknowledged in the lawsuit that he received the package from Mr. Derkach, whom the U.S. government sanctioned in 2020 and 2021, but said he promptly informed the Department of Justice.
“The statements were a product of Maddow’s imagination,” Madhu S. Sekharan and Steven S. Biss wrote for Mr. Nunes in a 17-page complaint seeking a jury trial and undetermined damages from the defendant.
“She made them up out of whole cloth in order to impute intentional wrongdoing to Plaintiff,” the lawyers wrote. “Although Maddow made it appear as if she had direct knowledge of facts, she did not have one shred of evidence to support the statements.”
Mr. Nunes “suffered presumed damages and actual damages” as a direct result of the alleged defamation, according to his attorney, “including, but not limited to, insult, pain, embarrassment, humiliation, mental suffering, injury to his reputation, costs and other out-of-pocket expenses, in a sum to be determined by the Jury.”
MSNBC declined to comment when reached Wednesday by The Washington Times.
Mr. Nunes, the ranking Republican on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, has filed defamation lawsuits before against defendants including CNN, The Washington Post and Twitter, among others.
None of those efforts have been successful, however, and a federal court judge in Virginia recently sanctioned Mr. Biss, one of Mr. Nunes‘ regular lawyers, for repeatedly pursuing “frivolous” actions.