CNN just suffered a devastating blow in federal court.
According to Newsmax, Judge Raag Singhal of the Southern District of Florida said no on Monday to a request from the network to quash a defamation suit filed by veteran attorney and legal scholar Alan Dershowitz.
Dershowitz is reportedly seeking $300 million in damages over claims that CNN harmed his reputation by broadcasting an edited version of his remarks at then-President Donald Trump’s 2020 Senate impeachment trial and misrepresenting his views.
“It was compelling”
According to Newsmax, Dershowitz, who was at the time acting as part of Trump’s defense team, was asked by GOP Sen. Ted Cruz (R) if it is permissible to impeach a president for taking action based on a desire to get re-elected.
Dershowitz replied: “Every public official that I know believes that his election is in the public interest and, mostly you are right, your election is in the public interest, and if a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.”
Cruz later praised Dershowitz’s defense of the president, telling Fox News host Sean Hannity that the “argument that he presented to the Senate was powerful. It was compelling,” the senator added.
“License to commit crimes”
CNN’s Joe Lockhart didn’t agree. After playing just a snippet of the lawyer’s comments, Lockhart labeled them “absurd” and asserted that Dershowitz had tried to given the president “license to commit crimes” by claiming it’s in the nation’s best interest, according to Newsmax.
Lockhart was joined in his criticism by fellow Clinton administration alumnus Paul Begala, who derisively referred to what he called “the Dershowitz” doctrine.
“The Dershowitz Doctrine would make presidents immune from every criminal act, so long as they could plausibly claim they did it to boost their re-election effort,” Begala complained. “Campaign finance laws: out the window. Bribery statutes: gone. Extortion: no more.”
“The truth coming out”
According to Newsmax, CNN said that its broadcast was protected by the fair report privilege, under which news networks are free to cover government proceedings. But the judge wasn’t buying it.
“CNN presented an abridgment of Dershowitz’ answer to Senator Cruz’ question,” Judge Singhal wrote Monday. “The abridgment is not accurate, to the extent that it omitted a crucial qualification: that an illegal motive for a quid pro quo would be corrupt.”
According to Law & Crime, CNN first filed its failed motion to dismiss the suit back in November. After the judge tossed the effort earlier this week, Dershowitz told Law & Crime that he’s “looking forward to deposing the commentators and heads of CNN and of the truth coming out.”