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Trump notifies CNN of 'intent to file' defamation lawsuit regarding his unproven election claims

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Former President Donald Trump said in a statement Wednesday that he had notified CNN he was intending to file a defamation lawsuit against the news outlet for its refusal to back his discredited claims that election fraud accounted for his loss to Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential race.

“I have notified CNN of my intent to file a lawsuit over their repeated defamatory statements against me,” Trump's statement said. “I will also be commencing actions against other media outlets who have defamed me and defrauded the public regarding the overwhelming evidence of fraud throughout the 2020 election.”

In a letter dated July 21, 2022, and addressed to CNN's CEO Chris Licht and executive vice president and general counsel David Vigilante, lawyers for Trump cited numerous examples in which they maintain the former president was defamed.

“Accordingly, I hereby demand on behalf of President Donald Trump that CNN (1) immediately take down the false and defamatory publications, (2) immediately issue a full and fair retraction of the statements identified herein in as conspicuous a manner as they were originally published, and (3) immediately cease and desist from its continued use of ‘Big Lie’ and ‘lying’ when describing President Trump’s subjective belief regarding the integrity of the 2020 election,” the letter stated.

Trump’s months-long scheme to overturn his defeat to Biden has been laid bare by the House select committee investigating the insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Ample evidence has been put forth showing that Trump was told by staffers, administration officials and family members that fraud had not affected the final results.

Testimony from Republicans close to the then president has also shown that he pursued a plan for state lawmakers to overturn the will of the voters by submitting slates of alternate electors. As the New York Times reported Tuesday, Trump campaign aides acknowledged in emails that those electors were “fake” and would be used to try to convince Vice President Mike Pence to block the certification of the Electoral College on Jan. 6.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump speaking at the America First Policy Institute in Washington on Tuesday. (Sarah Silbiger/Reuters)

On Tuesday, Trump returned to Washington to deliver a campaign-style speech on crime that devolved into more unfounded claims about his election loss. The former president depicted the select committee as intentionally lying to defame him and spoil his chances of winning reelection.

“They really want to damage me so I can no longer go back to work for you,” he said. “And I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

But on Wednesday, ABC News chief Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl reported that the Republican National Committee has told Trump it will cease paying his legal bills should he announce himself as a 2024 presidential candidate.

As of late February, Trump had filed 42 separate lawsuits since Election Day 2020 and lost them all. In December of last year, he did win a case in which Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers had asked a court to make the former president pay for the state’s legal fees in mounting a defense against Trump’s unsuccessful election lawsuit there.

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