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A federal judge dismissed a 2019 lawsuit filed by President Donald Trump accusing CNN of libel, court documents revealed Thursday.
In an article published in June 2019, CNN contributor Larry Noble touched upon former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, writing that he believes Mueller “may have been a little too optimistic” that his investigation could deter future campaigns from relying on foreign influence on US elections.
“Mueller may have believed that explaining both the ban on soliciting and accepting foreign national contributions and his concerns about the evidence would deter future campaigns from seeking help from foreign governments, while avoiding the potential risks of filing criminal charges,” he wrote in the op-ed.
“The Trump campaign assessed the potential risks and benefits of again seeking Russia’s help in 2020 and has decided to leave that option on the table,” Noble wrote in the op-ed, as cited in the court documents.
Trump sued CNN for libel citing that specific statement, saying it was “defamatory and false and that, at the time of publication, Defendants knew it was false,” according to court documents.
CNN argued that the story was a political op-ed, and thus the “statements of opinion are absolutely protected under state and federal constitutional law,” according to the court documents.
The network also argued that Trump failed to “plead specific facts showing anyone at CNN was actually, subjectively aware the Statement was false.”
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In order to prove a statement made against a public figure is libel under New York law, the court must decide whether the statement was made out of actual malice, meaning it was “made with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not,” according to the court documents.
In the case of the 2019 op-ed, Trump claimed the statement was made out of “actual malice,” citing Noble’s “record of malice and bias against the president” as evidenced by his tweets and previous articles.
But the court said “that the actual malice standard is not satisfied merely through a showing of ill will or ‘malice’ in the ordinary sense of the term,” according to the documents.
The court also said Trump’s assertion that the statement was made out of actual malice was “conclusory,” and that the evidence provided by the plaintiffs was insufficient to prove actual malice.
Trump can appeal the decision held by the court until the end of the month.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: We tested a machine that brews beer at the push of a button