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Trump sues CNN for defamation and seeks $475m in punitive damages

<span>Photograph: Emily Elconin/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Emily Elconin/Getty Images

Donald Trump has sued cable TV network CNN, claiming defamation and seeking punitive damages of $475m, according to a Florida court filing on Monday.

The US cable news station has attempted to smear the former US president “with a series of ever-more scandalous, false, and defamatory labels of ‘racist,’ ‘Russian lackey,’ ‘insurrectionist,’ and ultimately ‘Hitler’,” Trump’s lawyers claimed. The lawsuit has been filed in federal court in Fort Lauderdale.

Related: ‘I’m not sure he’s going to escape jail’: could Trump’s legal woes prevent a 2024 run?

“Beyond simply highlighting any negative information about the plaintiff and ignoring all positive information about him, CNN has sought to use its massive influence, purportedly as a ‘trusted’ news source, to defame the plaintiff in the minds of its viewers and readers for the purpose of defeating him politically,” the filing states.

Trump claimed that CNN had used its considerable influence as a leading news organization to defeat him politically. CNN declined to comment on the case.

Trump, a Republican, claims in the 29-page lawsuit that CNN had a long track record of criticizing him but had ramped up its attacks in recent months because the network feared that he would run again for president in 2024.

“As a part of its concerted effort to tilt the political balance to the left, CNN has tried to taint the plaintiff,” the suit said.

The lawsuit lists several instances in which CNN appeared to compare Trump to Hitler, including a January 2022 special report by host Fareed Zakaria that included footage of the 20th-century German dictator.

Trump, who in 2020 lost a re-election effort to Democrat Joe Biden, has not said officially whether he would seek re-election, though has dropped many such hints.

The lawsuit comes as the 76-year-old former president faces considerable legal woes, including a criminal investigation by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) for retaining government records at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida after leaving office in January 2021.

Trump was sued last month by the New York state attorney general, Leticia James, who has accused him of lying to banks and insurers about the value of his assets.

And a congressional committee and the DoJ are separately investigating last year’s January 6 assault on the US Capitol by Trump supporters.

He is also being sued by writer E Jean Carroll in a case involving alleged rape.