Trump's Truth Social company ordered to turn over Devin Nunes information

The 2022 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is held in Dallas
Devin Nunes, CEO of Truth Social, speaks during a general session at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas, Texas, U.S., August 5, 2022. REUTERS/Go Nakamura
  • Defendant Hearst media company seeks details about Nunes hiring as CEO
  • Lawyers for Trump's company called employment records irrelevant to Nunes' defamation lawsuit

(Reuters) - Former President Donald Trump's media and technology company must turn over information about ex-Congressman Devin Nunes' employment as its chief executive officer, a federal judge ruled on Friday.

The ruling stems from a $75 million defamation lawsuit brought by Nunes, a former Republican U.S. Congressman from California, against Hearst Magazine Media Inc and journalist Ryan Lizza.

U.S. Magistrate Judge William Matthewman in West Palm Beach, Florida, ruled that Trump Media and Technology Group Corp has 10 days to comply with the defendants' subpoena and provide information regarding Nunes' employment as CEO. Trump Media owns Truth Social, Trump's social media startup.

Nunes is suing Hearst and Lizza in Iowa federal court over a 2018 Esquire magazine article, which Lizza wrote, that said the Nunes family dairy cow farm had moved from California to Iowa. The judge's ruling addressed Hearst's bid for information that the media defendants want to use to counter Nunes' claim that the article caused him to suffer reputational harm. Hearst and Lizza have denied Nunes' defamation claims.

Trump's company is not a plaintiff in the case. A lawyer for the company, Scott Allen of Lippes Mathias, did not immediately respond to messages on Monday seeking comment. A spokesperson for Trump's company did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment, and there was no immediate response from Nunes to a request for comment.

Nunes, who joined Trump's media company in January from the U.S. House of Representatives, had been the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee. A lawyer for Nunes, Steven Biss, did not immediately return a message seeking comment on Monday.

Hearst and Lizza, a former Esquire correspondent who was hired at Politico in 2019, are seeking information that includes Nunes' onboarding at Trump's media company and copies of any employment agreements and contracts. Lizza did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment, and a representative for Politico declined to comment.

Hearst's lawyers said they anticipate the subpoenaed documents will show Nunes "maintains a sterling reputation."

Trump's company argued the requested information was irrelevant to Nunes' defamation case and that complying with the demands would be burdensome.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year upheld the dismissal of Nunes' "express" defamation claims but revived allegations of "defamation by implication" based on a tweet Lizza sent in 2019 linking to the Esquire article.

Nathaniel Boyer, a Hearst legal department attorney who argued before Matthewman for Esquire and Lizza, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The case is Ryan Lizza and Hearst Magazine Media Inc v. Trump Media & Technology Group Corp, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, No. 9:22-mc-81070-DMM.

For plaintiff: Deanna Shullman and Rachel Fugate of Shullman Fugate; Nathaniel Boyer of The Hearst Corporation

For defendant: Alessandro Apolito and Scott Allen of Lippes Mathias

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