Top Advisor to Rep. Nunes Sues CNN, Lev Parnas, and others in $30 million defamation action
October 21, 2020
This story is developing
Derek Harvey, a top advisor to Ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Rep. Devin Nunes, is suing CNN, along with several other defendants, for defamation, alleging that a series of stories beginning in November, 2019 falsely suggested he participated in an effort to “aide and abet the commission of criminal, unethical and dishonest conduct.”
Retired Army Col. Harvey, a long-time military intelligence officer, who also worked as a Middle East analyst and expert for the White House National Security Council, filed the lawsuit Wednesday. Harvey, who is not a public figure, accused CNN of “false statements exposed Plaintiff to public scorn, ridicule and contempt. Defendants attributed to Plaintiff statements he never made and imputed to him deception, lack of integrity, and ethical improprieties that severely prejudiced Plaintiff in his employment.”
Harvey’s attorney Steven Biss, who also represented Nunes in several defamation lawsuits against the media, filed the detailed 45 page complaint against CNN, as well as Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian born businessman who turned on then associate and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani after being charged by the Justice Department for defrauding investors in his company. The complaint filed Wednesday afternoon, also named Parnas’ lawyer Joseph Bondy, a criminal defense attorney, in the lawsuit. Bondy participated in tweeting and allegedly defaming Harvey while representing Parnas.
“CNN chose to tarnish the reputation of Colonel Derek Harvey based on the word of a renowned liar,” said Biss to this reporter. “Even Jake Tapper acknowledged that Parnas had no credibility. That’s a huge admission. These demonstrably false statements about Colonel Harvey and Devin Nunes should never have been published.”
Biss pointed out in the complaint that “CNN, Parnas and Bondy published the Defamatory Statements as part of a broad smear campaign orchestrated by House Democrats and other powerful interests within the United States to discredit Plaintiff (and Nunes) and to further the goal of impeaching the President.”
He also noted that “the millions who read the defamatory statements clearly understood them to be referring to Plaintiff [Harvey] and clearly understood them to convey a defamatory meaning, including that Plaintiff committed federal crimes, aided and abetted the commission of crimes, or otherwise engaged in unethical and dishonest conduct.”
CNN officials could not be immediately reached for comment. In January, CNN has settled a defamation lawsuit with a Kentucky high school student Nicholas Sandmann. He sought $275 million in damages, however, the actual amount of the settlement was never disclosed.
In one instance, Harvey points out that CNN allegedly defamed him in a story written November, 2019 that stated “Nunes had “meetings … in Vienna last year with a former Ukrainian prosecutor to discuss digging up dirt on Joe Biden … Parnas was told directly by the former Ukrainian official that he met last year in Vienna with Rep. Devin Nunes … Nunes and three aides traveled to Europe from November 30 to December 3, 2018 … Nunes’ entourage included retired colonel Derek Harvey”
Neither Harvey, nor Nunes, traveled to Vienna to “dig up dirt on Joe Biden,” based on established evidence and testimony.
In another instance Biss establishes in the complaint that “Bondy, told The Washington Post that Ukraine’s former top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, informed Parnas that he had met with Nunes in Vienna in December 2018 … Bondy also said that a top aide to Nunes, Derek Harvey, sometimes joined a group that met frequently in spring 2019 at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., to discuss the Biden matter … The group, according to Bondy, was convened by Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, and included Parnas, his business associate Igor Fruman, as well as journalist John Solomon and the husband-and- wife legal team of Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing. The information about Nunes’s meeting with Shokin and Harvey’s meetings with Giuliani were first reported by CNN on Friday.”
The complaint alleges that Bondy’s assertions are categorically false. Bondy could not be immediately reached for comment.
A source familiar with the lawsuit said it was an important step in getting to “first, correct the record and two to get the media to correct the record because if anything, these institutions, like CNN and others, have a responsibility to get it right.”