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Why is Donald Trump threatening to sue CNN and other media outlets?

The former President made repeated jabs at the ‘mainstream media’ while in the White House but seems unlikely to follow through on his latest threat.

Trump threatens to sue CNN in 282-page letter
Cliff HawkinsAFP

In a statement released on Wednesday former President Donald Trump announced his intention to file a lawsuit against CNN, claiming that the network has repeatedly defamed him. His legal team alleges that the defamation began shortly before his successful 2016 presidential campaign.

In a 282-page letter from Trump’s team to CNN executives, the former President demanded that the network “retract or correct” various articles and on-air statements. Of the numerous examples cited in the letter, many relate to Trump’s conviction that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him. There is no evidence to support Trump’s claims.

“I have notified CNN of my intent to file a lawsuit over their repeated defamatory statements against me,” the former President wrote in a statement.

“I will also be commencing actions against other media outlets who have defamed me and defrauded the public regarding the overwhelming evidence of fraud throughout the 2020 Election. I will never stop fighting for the truth and for the future of our Country!”

Why is Trump suing CNN?

The lengthy letter provides some insight into Trump’s legal position and the case that his team could make in future. To be clear, at this stage no legal proceedings have actually been brought against CNN.

The letter to CNN reads: “Without regard for President Trump’s genuine belief in his statements, CNN has published numerous articles characterizing him as a ‘liar’ and the purveyor of the ‘Big Lie’.”

Since leaving office in January 2021 Trump has stuck steadfast to his claims that the election result was the consequence of a grand system of electoral fraud. He has claimed that the election was rigged and has held countless ‘Stop the Steal’ events to garner further support.

According to The Hill, many of the specific articles cited in the letter are opinion or analysis pieces from the aftermath of the 2020 election. Many of these draw parallels between Trump’s rhetoric and the explosion of violence shortly after, on 6 January 2021.

But for all the bold claims made in the 282-page letter, it appears unlikely that Trump will actually follow through on his threats of legal action. His claims of electoral fraud have, in essence, already been litigated in the dozens of appeals launched by his team in a bid to block the election result being ratified. In almost all of these lawsuits his team’s cases were immediately thrown out and they failed to provide any evidence proving widespread fraud.

In fact Trump has a history of threatening legal action against opponents but failing to follow through. He has threated to sue The New York Times for their negative coverage of him, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi for comments made during his first impeachment trial, but has not actually launched a legal case.


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