Trump’s Truth Social company ordered to release Devin Nunes information

Devin Nunes, CEO of Truth Social, speaks during a general session at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas, Texas, U.S. August 5, 2022. REUTERS/Go Nakamura

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  • Defendant media company Hearst seeks details of Nunes’ hiring as CEO
  • Lawyers for Trump’s company called employment records irrelevant to Nunes’ libel suit

(Reuters) – Former President Donald Trump’s media and technology company must provide information about former congressman Devin Nunes’ employment as chief executive, a federal judge ruled on Friday.

The decision stems from a $75 million libel lawsuit filed by Nunes, a former Republican U.S. congressman from California, against Hearst Magazine Media Inc and journalist Ryan Lizza.

U.S. Magistrate Judge William Matthewman in West Palm Beach, Fla., ruled that Trump Media and Technology Group Corp had 10 days to comply with defendants’ subpoena and provide information regarding Nunes’ employment as CEO. Trump Media owns Truth Social, Trump’s social media startup.

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Nunes is suing Hearst and Lizza in federal court in Iowa over a 2018 Esquire magazine article, written by Lizza, that claimed the Nunes family’s dairy farm had moved from California to Iowa. The judge’s ruling dealt with Hearst’s request for information that the media defendants wanted to use to counter Nunes’ claim that the article caused him reputational damage. Hearst and Lizza have denied Nunes’ defamation allegations.

Trump’s company is not a civil party in the case. A lawyer for the company, Scott Allen of Lippes Mathias, did not immediately respond to messages on Monday seeking comment. A Trump Company spokesperson did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment, and there was no immediate response from Nunes to a request for comment.

Nunes, who joined Trump’s media company in January from the US House of Representatives, had been the House Intelligence Committee’s top Republican. A lawyer for Nunes, Steven Biss, did not immediately return a message seeking comment on Monday.

Hearst and Lizza, a former Esquire correspondent who was hired at Politico in 2019, are seeking information that includes Nunes’ integration into Trump’s media company and copies of all employment agreements and contracts. Lizza did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment, and a representative for Politico declined to comment.

Hearst’s attorneys said they expect subpoenaed documents to show Nunes “maintains an excellent reputation.”

Trump’s company argued that the requested information was irrelevant to Nunes’ defamation case and that complying with the requests would be cumbersome.

Last year, the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of Nunes’ ‘express’ defamation claims, but revived the ‘defamation by implication’ claims based on a tweet sent by Lizza in 2019 linked to the Esquire article.

Nathaniel Boyer, an attorney in the Hearst legal department who has argued cases before Matthewman for Esquire and Lizza, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The case is Ryan Lizza and Hearst Magazine Media Inc v. Trump Media & Technology Group Corp, US District Court, Southern District of Florida, No. 9:22-mc-81070-DMM.

For the Applicant: Deanna Shullman and Rachel Fugate of Shullman Fugate; Nathaniel Boyer of the Hearst Corporation

For the defendant: Alessandro Apolito and Scott Allen de Lippes Mathias

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