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WHEN CRIMINALS SCREAM “LIBEL!”

In Business, History, Law, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on November 2, 2022 at 12:14 am

On October 3, former President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit against CNN for defamation.

Seeking $475 million in punitive damages, he charged the network with conducting a “campaign of libel and slander” against him. 

Trump is claiming that CNN had used its influence to defeat him politically.

“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 focuses largely on CNN’s use of the term, “The Big Lie,” to describe Trump’s false claims that widespread voter fraud cost him the 2020 Presidential election.  

The phrase dates from Adolf Hitler’s use of it in his autobiography, Mein Kampf: People “more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods.”

Trump’s lawsuit claims “The Big Lie” has been used in referring to him more than 7,700 times on CNN since January, 2021.

In addition, the lawsuit cites instances where CNN compared Trump to Hitler. In a January, 2022 report, Fareed Zakaria provided footage of Germany’s dictator.

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So what are his odds of winning?  Far less than your own of finding loose change in sofa cushions.

First: Donald Trump is a public figure—arguably the most public figure in the world. Plaintiffs who are public figures or government officials must prove themselves victims of actual malice to collect damages. 

In the landmark case, New York Times v. Sullivan (1964) the Supreme Court declared that actual malice occurs when a statement is made “with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.”

This is a more stringent standard than private citizens have to meet, which is negligence. 

Second: Truth is an absolute defense against libel (unless the plaintiff is suing for invasion of privacy).  And Trump’s history as a liar, criminal and traitor has been thoroughly established.

Liar: 

  • He created the lie that Barack Obama—whose birth certificate states unequivocally that he was born in Hawaii—was not an American citizen. The reason: To de-legitimize Obama as a Presidential candidate and President.
  • Throughout 2020, he repeatedly lied about the dangers of COVID-19—attacking medical experts who urged citizens to mask up and social distance. As a result, by the time he left office, 400,000 Americans had died of COVID. 

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Donald Trump

Criminal:

  • He has been forced to shut down his Trump Foundation and forced to pay more than $2 million in court-ordered damages to eight different charities for illegally misusing charitable funds at the Foundation for political purposes.
  • He was also forced to close his unaccredited Trump University for scamming its students. He had promised to teach them “the secrets of success” in the real estate industry—then delivered nothing. In 2016, a federal court approved a $25 million settlement with many of those students.

Traitor:

  • On July 9, 2016, high-ranking members of his Presidential campaign met at Trump Tower with at least two lobbyists who had ties to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. The reason: To obtain “dirt” on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
  • On July 27, 2016, Trump said at a press conference in Doral, Florida: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you are able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing [from Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s computer]. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

These incidents were nothing less than treason—inviting a foreign power, hostile to the United States, to interfere in its Presidential election.

Third—and perhaps the most important of all: In a libel suit, the plaintiff must answer—under oath—all questions put to him by the defendant’s attorneys.

Trump, better than anyone, knows the depths of his own criminality. Just as Al Capone knew his notoriety for evil would make it impossible for him to win a libel suit, so does Trump. 

On August 10, he invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination nearly 450 times during a deposition at the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James, in its probe into the Trump Organization’s business practices.

He would not be allowed to do so as a litigant in a libel suit.

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Moreover, he has a history of threatening to file lawsuits—and then failing to do so.

During the 2016 Presidential campaign, at least 12 women publicly accused him of sexually inappropriate behavior—if not assault. 

Trump’s reaction: “All of these liars will be sued after the election is over.”

Six years later, he has not filed a single lawsuit for defamation. 

So why has he filed a defamation suit against CNN? 

Money—not by winning an impossible lawsuit, but by raising it from his gullible and Fascistic followers.

He will claim—once again—that he’s being persecuted and that “they’re not coming after me, they’re coming after you.”

And his millions of media-hating followers will gladly pony up money they will never see again.

If he loses the lawsuit—or pulls out of it—he will claim he’s the victim of “the deep-state establishment.”

And ask his followers for even more money—which they’ll cough up.

THE NRA: FACING JUDGMENT FOR THE LEAST OF ITS CRIMES

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on August 18, 2020 at 1:20 am

On August 6, New York Attorney General Letitia James gave the National Rifle Association (NRA) an unprecedented broadside. 

“The NRA’s influence has been so powerful that the organization went unchecked for decades while top executives funneled millions into their own pockets,” James outlined in a news release.

And she assailed the organization’s leadership for creating “a culture of self-dealing mismanagement” benefiting themselves, family, friends and favored vendors.

As a result, the NRA had lost more than $63 million in three years.

James’ office filed the suit on August 6 in New York Supreme Court. In it, she accuses the following NRA leaders of corruption and misuse of funds:

  • CEO and Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre;
  • General Counsel and Secretary John Frazer;
  • Former Chief Financial Officer Wilson “Woody” Phillips; and
  • Former Chief of Staff and Executive Director of General Operations Josh Powell. 

Wayne LaPierre

The lawsuit accuses these officials of:

  • Violating multiple laws including false reporting of annual filings with the IRS and New York’s charities bureau
  • Improperly documenting expenses, improper wage and income tax reporting and
  • Excessively paying people for work for which they were not qualified.

The NRA is headquartered in the Northern Virginia suburbs outside Washington, D.C. But it has operated as a New York-registered 501(c)(4) non-profit group since 1871. 

As a charitable organization, the NRA faces strict state and federal rules governing spending. The alleged violation of many of those rules gives James’ office legal jurisdiction for bringing the lawsuit.

The NRA has long been one of the nation’s most powerful special interest groups. It has dominated Republican politics for decades. With a reported five million members across the country, it claims as its mission the defense of the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

The NRA claims that its mission stems from the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

NRA members conveniently ignore the first half of that sentence about “a well regulated Militia….”  They simply want everyone to own a gun—and contribute to the NRA.

The charges now facing the NRA are not the ones for which it truly deserves indictment.

For decades, the NRA has been the death-dealer of choice to criminals and terrorists. In its wake lie the bullet-torn, bloodstained bodies of countless Americans from coast to coast.

According to the non-profit organization, Brady: United Against Gun Violence: 

Every year, 114,328 people are shot. Among those:

  • 37,603 people die from gun violence
  • 13,380 are murdered 
  • 76,725 people survive gunshot injuries 
  • 34,566 are intentionally shot by someone else 
  • 22,926 died from gun suicide 
  • 3,554 survive an attempted gun suicide 
  • 478 are killed unintentionally 
  • 510 are killed by legal intervention 
  • 1,376 are shot by legal intervention
  •  310 die but the intent was unknown 
  • 4,471 are shot but the intent is unknown 
  • 529 women are killed by their husband or male dating partner

Gun Violence is estimated to cost the American economy at least $229 billion every year.

Among the NRA’s “contributions” to this carnage:

  • For decades, the NRA has peddled deadly weapons to millions, reaped billions of dollars in profits and refused to admit the carnage those weapons have produced: “Guns don’t kill people.  People kill people.”  With guns.
  • It championed the marketing of Teflon-coated “cop killer” bullets capable of piercing the bulletproof vests worn by police officers and targets of assassination.
  • The NRA opposes  removing firearms from violent individuals under active restraining orders for domestic abuse.

  • The NRA has bitterly fought background checks on gun-buyers, in effect granting even criminals and the mentally ill the right to own arsenals of death-dealing weaponry.
  • The NRA has spent millions on slick advertising campaigns to win new members and frighten them into buying guns.
  • The NRA rammed through a Republican-dominated Congress the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, (PLCAA). It was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2005. This has armed the American firearms industry with immunity against lawsuits by victims of mass shootings and gun violence. 

  • The NRA has spent millions on political contributions to block gun-control legislation.
  • The NRA has spent millions attacking political candidates and elected officials who warned about the dangers of unrestricted access to assault and/or concealed weapons.

  • The NRA has spent millions pushing “Stand Your Ground” laws in more than half the states, which potentially give every citizen a “license to kill.”
  • In 2012, the NRA rushed to defend accused murderer George Zimmerman, the self-appointed “community watchman” who  ignored police orders to stop following 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and ultimately shot him. 
  • The NRA receives millions of dollars from online sales of ammunition, high-capacity ammunition magazines, and other accessories through its point-of-sale Round-Up Program—thus directly profiting by selling a product that kills about 30,288 people a year.

  • Anyone–including convicted criminals—can buy the NRA’s “hide-a-gun” sweatshirts, putting both the public and law enforcers at deadly risk.
  • Firearms made indiscriminately available through NRA lobbying have filled hospitals with casualties, and have thus badly strained the states’ public healthcare systems. 

The NRA’s leaders—past and present—will never be criminally indicted for the carnage their greed and irresponsibility have unleashed.

But the effort by New York Attorney General Letitia James to dissolve the NRA is at least a welcome step in the right direction.

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