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

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as he attends a rally in Warren, Michigan, U.S., October 1, 2022. REUTERS/Chery Dieu-Nalio/File Photo

Oct 3 (Reuters) - Former U.S. president Donald Trump sued CNN for defamation on Monday, seeking $475 million in punitive damages and claiming the network had carried out a "campaign of libel and slander" against him.

Trump claims in his lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, that CNN had used its considerable influence as a leading news organization to defeat him politically.

CNN declined to comment on the case.

Trump, a Republican, claims in the 29-page lawsuit that CNN had a long track record of criticizing him but had ramped up its attacks in recent months because the network feared that he would run again for president in 2024.

"As a part of its concerted effort to tilt the political balance to the left, CNN has tried to taint the Plaintiff with a series of ever-more scandalous, false, and defamatory labels of 'racist,' 'Russian lackey,' 'insurrectionist,' and ultimately 'Hitler,'" the lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit lists several instances in which CNN appeared to compare Trump to Hitler, including a January 2022 special report by host Fareed Zakaria that included footage of the German dictator.

Trump, who in 2020 lost a re-election bid to Democrat Joe Biden, has not said whether he would seek re-election.

In a statement, the former president said he would be filing lawsuits against other major media companies "in the coming weeks and months," and that he could even take action against a congressional committee probing the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by his supporters.

The lawsuit comes as the 76-year-old former president faces considerable legal woes, including a criminal investigation by the U.S. Justice Department for retaining government records at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida after leaving office in January 2021.

Trump was sued last month by New York state Attorney General Leticia James, who has accused him of lying to banks and insurers over the value of his assets.

Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Additional reporting by Kanishka Singh and Tim Ahmann; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Chris Reese

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