A federal court in Manhattan has ruled in favor of former Republican congressman Devin Nunes in a defamation complaint against Rachel Maddow.
Nunes is suing NBCUniversal over a remark made by Maddow, a far-left anchor.
The network has been battling to get the lawsuit dismissed in court.
However, U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel Nunes has now authorized the defamation action to move forward.
The complaint dates back to the Trump administration, when Maddow and other liberal media icons thought they had carte blanche to characterize the 45th president and his supporters as Russian agents.
Maddow said that Nunes got a package from pro-Russia Ukrainian lawmaker Andriy Derkach.
She said erroneously 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 truth is that Nunes’ assistants gave the unopened box to the FBI on the day it arrived.
Judge Castel dismissed NBC’s claim that Maddow’s words were protected by the First Amendment since they were either accurate or merely her opinion.
Castel stated that when Maddow stated that Nunes refused to hand up the item to the FBI, she was stating a fact and not her 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 refuted Nunes’ allegations that two additional statements were defamatory.
Nunes “plausibly allege[d] actual malice,” Castel said.
Castel stated that Maddow did not provide a source for the Nunes article, and while she may have been aware of a similar story in Politico, “a court does not weigh competing, plausible theories of actual malice on a motion to dismiss.”
Nunes is seeking damages and claims in his lawsuit that MSNBC and Maddow knew the box had been handed over, but “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