The ruling on the lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, found that the campaign failed to sufficiently plead malice on the part of the news agency for running the story. However, the campaign can still file an amended complaint by November 30, provided it believes it can still prove malice.
The article, titled “Soliciting dirt on your opponents from a foreign government is a crime. Mueller should have charged Trump campaign officials with it,” was written by Larry Noble, a campaign finance advocate and former Federal Election Commission official, and published as an opinion piece on CNN’s website on June 13, 2019. In it, Noble argues that Trump could solicit help from Moscow to win the 2020 US presidential election, claiming he did so in 2016 as well.
However, since Trump is a public figure, there are very strict standards that must be met before he can seek to punish someone for attacking him in a public venue.
“As a matter of constitutional law, a public figure plaintiff must prove actual malice, meaning the allegedly libelous statement was ‘made with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not,’” Judge Michael Brown noted.
The Trump reelection campaign filed similar suits against the Washington Post and New York Times as well. For the Post, the suit focused on two opinion pieces from 2019 that similarly alleged a connection between the president and Russian election interference, and Trump claimed the Times falsely suggested a “quid pro quo” between his campaign and Moscow in 2016. The judges have not yet ruled on those cases.