California Rep. Devin Nunes Files $250 Million Lawsuit Against Twitter for Defamation

Twitter finds itself in a quarter-billion-dollar lawsuit after Representative Devin Nunes of California filed a massive defamation suit against the social media giant in Virginia on Monday.

Lawyers for Nunes, a Republican who has represented California's 22nd Congressional District, including San Joaquin Valley along with portions of Tulare and Fresno counties, since 2003, claimed thatTwitter played a key role in slowing Nunes's 2018 re-election campaign, when compared with his larger wins in previous re-election bids. The lawsuit said that Twitter allowed "fake accounts" to slander Nunes, including one by a user who claimed to be Nunes's mother.

The lawsuit seeks no less than $250 million in compensation for damages and another $350,000 in punitive damages for what Nunes's attorneys called defamation, conspiracy and negligence against the multi-term congressman.

The lawsuit called Twitter a part of "modern-day American Democracy" that overstepped its boundaries by not interfering to curb outside parties determined to destroy the Nunes 2018 campaign.

"Twitter created and developed the content at issue in this case by transforming false accusations of criminal conduct, imputed wrongdoing, dishonesty and lack of integrity into a publicly available commodity used by unscrupulous political operatives and their donor/clients as a weapon," the lawsuit stated. "Twitter is 'responsible' for the development of offensive content on its platform because it in some way specifically encourages development of what is offensive about the content."

Fox News reported Monday that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey had previously said Twitter was a private company that had a right to censor, per his testimony before Congress.

Other defendants in the lawsuit included Elizabeth "Liz" Mair, who posed as Nunes's mother, according to the lawsuit, and posted scathing anti-Devin Nunes posts to try to paint Nunes as unfit for office.

The lawsuit stated that Nunes had won many re-elections for his congressional seat by comfortable margins but garnered only 52 percent of the vote in 2018, which the lawsuit claimed was uncharacteristic.

"In 2018, during his last re-election for the 22nd Congressional District, Nunes endured an orchestrated defamation campaign of stunning breadth and scope, one that no human being should ever have to bear and suffer in their whole life," the lawsuit claimed. "Unlike prior elections, where Nunes won by sweeping majorities, Nunes won on November 6, 2018, by a much narrower margin, receiving 52.7 percent of the 222,379 votes. The malicious, false and defamatory statements and relentless attacks on Nunes' reputation did not stop after he won the Congressional election in 2018. The defamation continues. It must be stopped."

The lawsuit used several paragraphs to lay out Twitter's user guidelines, and then stated, "@LizMair, @DevinNunesMom, @DevinCow, @fireDevinNunes, and @DevinGrapes repeatedly tweeted and retweeted abusive and hateful content about Nunes that expressly and undoubtedly violated Twitter's Terms and Rules."

It stated "Twitter did nothing" to investigate its users, and that it ultimately affected the election's outcome.

"Twitter's actions affected the election results. The combination of the shadow-ban and Twitter's refusal to enforce its Terms and Rules in the face of clear and present abuse and hateful conduct caused Nunes to lose support amongst voters. Twitter's actions also detracted from Nunes' investigation into corruption and Russian involvement in the 2016 Presidential Election," the lawsuit stated.

The legal filing claimed that Twitter set out to "squelch" conservative voices during the recent election, even accusing it of "shadow-banning" conservatives.

"Twitter makes it possible for advertisers to promote their brands, products and services, amplify their visibility and reach, and complement and extend the conversation around their advertising campaigns" in a variety of ways, the lawsuit read.

The 40-page document obtained by Fox News gave examples of Mair using videos, tweets and such California media outlets as The Fresno Bee to "smear" Nunes in the election.

Nunes's attorneys said Mair used the moniker "Devin Nunes' Mom" without Twitter's consent to fire off constant tweets "for the sole purpose of attacking, defaming, disparaging and demeaning Nunes."

Allegations included "obstruction of justice," "perjury" and other claims against the California congressman.

"In her endless barrage of tweets, Devin Nunes' Mom maliciously attacked every aspect of Nunes's character, honesty, integrity, ethics and fitness to perform his duties as a United States Congressman," the lawsuit claimed.

The Devin Nunes' Mom account made all sorts of claims against Nunes, including soliciting prostitutes, using cocaine, and spliced vulgarity and malicious statements through tweets to the legions of followers who seemed to follow—though the lawsuit didn't state if all the followers were anti-Nunes or not.

"The substance and timing of the tweets, retweets, replies and likes by Mair, Devin Nunes' Mom and Devin Nunes' Cow demonstrates that all three bad actors were and are engaged in a joint effort, together and with others, to defame Nunes and interfere with his duties, employment and investigations of corruption as a United States Congressman," the lawsuit stated.