In a string of tweets on Monday, former U.S. Attorney Kenneth White demolished a lawsuit Donald Trump's attorneys filed against CNN for defamation, calling the legal action "contemptible garbage" and saying the former president's lawyers should be marked "with a permanent brand of contempt."
Trump announced his suit on his Truth Social platform, writing, "A lawsuit was filed today against CNN, the once prestigious news channel that has devolved into a purveyor of disinformation, defamation, and Fake News, at a level which the American Public, and indeed the World, will not even believe is possible. For years I have watched this take place, often in disbelief, but the time has finally come to hold CNN responsible and legally accountable for their willful deception and defamatory statements made about me…"
Upon reviewing the lawsuit, White, who practices law in Los Angeles, claimed it was compeletely without merit, focusing on one complaint from the president where he was vaguely accused of being like Adolph Hitler.
Taking to Twitter -- where White posts as "Popehat" -- he wrote, "This is one of the most shockingly baseless, bad faith, unethical abuses of the judicial system to suppress speech I've ever seen. Absolutely contemptible garbage," with a link to the lawsuit documents.
He continued, "Let me be more explicit in my reasoning. The reason this case is frivolous, bad faith, and performative is that it explicitly attacks political opinion as if it were false statement of fact. It attacks the absolute core of the First Amendment," before adding, "This piece of excrement takes swings at the New York Times v. Sullivan "actual malice" standard, much hated by modern totalitarian Right, and talks up "defamation per se," which is a damages doctrine. But those are red herrings that don't drive the outcome."
"Only a provably false statement of fact can be defamatory. '[Politician] is like Hitler' is the quintessential example of opinion, rhetoric, and hyperbole that can't be defamatory because it's on its face not a provable statement of fact," he elaborated. "The message of this lawsuit is 'we will sue you if we don't like your rhetoric, regardless of law. It's absolutely lawless, without anything resembling a good faith basis supporting it. It's immoral, unethical, and should mark its authors with a permanent brand of contempt."