Trump sues ABC and Stephanopoulos, alleging defamation over Mace interview

(The Hill) - Former President Trump sued ABC News and George Stephanopoulos, alleging defamation over the anchor’s questioning of Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) about her endorsement of Trump.

The March 10 interview on “This Week” made headlines after Mace, a rape survivor, accused Stephanopoulos of trying to “shame” her by probing why she endorsed the former president despite juries’ recent verdicts in advice columnist E. Jean Carroll’s sexual battery and defamation lawsuits.

Trump’s lawsuit, filed on Monday, takes aim at how Stephanopoulos at multiple points in his questioning said Trump had been found “liable for rape.” The jury had found Trump liable for sexual abuse under New York law, but not rape.

“Judges and two separate juries have found him liable for rape and for defaming the victim of that rape. How do you square your endorsement of Donald Trump with the testimony we just saw, ” Stephanopoulos asked during the interview.

“These statements were and remain false, and were made by Defendant Stephanopoulos with actual malice or with a reckless disregard for the truth given that Defendant Stephanopoulos knows that these statements are patently and demonstrably false,” Trump’s attorney, Alejandro Brito, wrote in the 20-page complaint.

“Indeed, the jury expressly found that Plaintiff did not commit rape and, as demonstrated below, Defendant George Stephanopoulos was aware of the jury's finding in this regard yet still falsely stated otherwise,” Brito continued.

Trump asked for an unspecified amount of damages in the lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in Miami.

ABC News declined to comment.

It isn’t the first time Trump has filed defamation lawsuits against media outlets. He or his campaign unsuccessfully sued The New York Times, CNN and The Washington Post.

Trump also attempted to countersue Carroll herself over her continuing to accuse Trump of rape on cable news following the jury’s verdict.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, a Clinton appointee who oversaw the litigation, rejected Trump’s counterclaims, ruling that describing it as a rape was still substantially true.

“The difference between Ms. Carroll’s allegedly defamatory statements — that Mr. Trump ‘raped’ her as defined in the New York Penal Law — and the ‘truth’ — that Mr. Trump forcibly digitally penetrated Ms. Carroll — is minimal. Both are felonious sex crimes,” Kaplan ruled.

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