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Trump sues CNN for defamation, seeks $475 million in punitive damages

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Former US President Donald Trump has sued CNN news network seeking $475 million in punitive damages. (File Photo)

Former US president Donald Trump, who shared a contentious relationship with the media during his time as the elected official, sued American broadcaster CNN on Monday for defamation, seeking $475 million in damages.

A lawsuit filed at a US District Court in Florida claims that CNN tried to taint the former US president using defamatory language as part of a "concerted effort to tilt the political balance to the Left."

According to the 29-page suit, Trump is seeking $475 million in punitive damages, as well as compensatory damages to be determined at trial.

It particularly takes the issue with CNN’s use of the words “racist” and “insurrectionist,” and parallels between Trump and German dictator Adolf Hitler.

The lawsuit claims the network carried out a "campaign of libel and slander", referring to an interview hosted by Fareed Zakaria in January 2022 in which the former president was compared to the German dictator Adolf Hitler.

Trump's lawyers argue that he's entitled to hundreds of millions of dollars in punitive damages because of CNN's use of the term the "Big Lie" to describe his "stated concerns about the integrity of the election process for the 2020 presidential election."

They say that the "Big Lie" "is a direct reference to a tactic employed by Adolf Hitler and appears in Hitler's "Mein Kampf." 

In order to prove defamation, public officials and other public figures must prove journalists acted with actual malice or reckless disregard for the truth in their reporting.

In a statement, the former president said he would file lawsuits against other major media companies "in the coming weeks and months," as well as consider taking actions against a congressional committee probing the 2021 attack on the US Capitol by his supporters. 

The lawsuit comes as the former president was sued last month by New York state Attorney General Leticia James for lying to banks and insurers over the value of his assets. 

He also awaits a criminal investigation by the US Justice Department for removing government records from the White House after he vacated the office in January 2021 and keeping them at his Mar-a-Lago retreat.

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