- Trump’s lawyers threatened to sue CNN for saying Trump was “lying” with his election-fraud claims.
- He did not say his claims were true, saying only that he “subjectively believes” there was fraud.
- It also used a Webster’s Dictionary’s definition to say Trump was not a liar.
In their legal threat against CNN, former President Donald Trump’s lawyers stopped short of saying his election-fraud claims were true, saying instead that the former president “subjectively believes” them.
In a 282-page document submitted to CNN last week, Trump’s legal team said it would sue the network unless it issued a correction, apology, or retraction on stories about Trump, including ones where it dismissed his claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election .
Trump said on Wednesday that he had contacted CNN to say he intends to sue.
In their document, the lawyers said that CNN repeatedly said Trump was “lying” but that Trump could not be lying as he “subjectively believes” his loss was due to voter fraud.
“In this instance, President Trump’s comments are not lies: He subjectively believes that the results of the 2020 presidential election turned on fraudulent voting activity in several key states,” the lawyers wrote.
They said that CNN started accusing Trump of lying before audits and recounts took place in states where Trump alleged there was fraud.
They also used a dictionary definition to argue that Trump could not be lying.
“Webster’s Dictionary defines a ‘lie’ as an assertion of something known or believed by the speaker to be untrue with intent to deceive,” they said.
“The definition, then, is not limited to simply being wrong about an assertion; it instead requires the speaker to know he or she is speaking falsely and to specifically harbor an intent to mislead.”
But they did not argue that Trump’s claims were true.
It demanded that CNN “immediately cease and desist from its continued use of ‘Big Lie’ and ‘lying’ when describing President Trump’s subjective belief regarding the integrity of the 2020 election.”
Trump has repeatedly claimed that he was the true winner of the 2020 presidential election, but that widespread voter fraud meant President Joe Biden won. There has been no evidence for his claims, and subsequent lawsuits over the matter have failed in court.
A legal expert told Insider’s Camila DeChalus earlier this month that Trump’s legal team could argue that Trump believed what he was saying as part of his legal defense if he is charged with crimes related to the Capitol riot.
The House committee investigating the riot is said to be zeroing in on Trump’s role in it and conduct after his election loss.