(SNews) – A federal judge in Manhattan has handed former Republican Congressman Devin Nunes a huge win over Rachel Maddow in a defamation lawsuit.
Nunes is suing NBCUniversal over a comment made by far-left host Maddow.
The network has been fighting in court to try and get the lawsuit tossed.
However, U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel Nunes has now ordered the defamation lawsuit to proceed.
The lawsuit stems from the Trump era when Maddow and other leftist media figures believed they had free reign to label the 45th president, and anyone who supported him, as Russian agents.
Maddow alleged that Nunes received a package from Andriy Derkach, a pro-Russia Ukrainian legislator.
She falsely claimed that Nunes “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 U.S. as a Russian agent.”
The true story is that Nunes’ aides turned over the package, unopened, to the FBI the day it arrived.
Judge Castel rejected NBC’s argument that Maddow’s statements were either true or simply opinions and were protected by the Constitution’s First Amendment.
Castel said when Maddow said Nunes refused to give the package to the FBI, she was asserting a fact, not an opinion.
“The statement in this respect was false, not just technically but also in substance and meaning, and capable of injuring Nunes in his profession,” the judge wrote.
Castel dismissed Nunes’s claims that two other statements were defamatory.
Nunes “plausibly allege[d] actual malice,” Castel said.
Castel said Maddow had no source for the Nunes’ story and while she may have known about a similar story in a Politico, “a court does not weigh competing, plausible theories of actual malice on a motion to dismiss.”
Nunes is seeking damages and said in his suit that MSNBC and Maddow knew the package had been turned over, but instead “set out to inflict maximum pain and suffering on plaintiff in order to harm plaintiff’s reputation.”
Former congressman and Donald Trump ally Devin Nunes has cleared an early hurdle in a lawsuit accusing MSNBC host Rachel Maddow of smearing him on her show https://t.co/KtEFYhiBT1
— Bloomberg (@business) November 29, 2022
— Reuters Legal (@ReutersLegal) November 29, 2022