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Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, told host Sean Hannity a story the network recently published reporting that he met with Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin last year in Vienna in order to dig up “dirt” on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden was “demonstrably false”
Shokin was the prosecutor Biden mentioned in a now-famous clip, in which he recalled threatening to withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees if then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko did not fire him:
“‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.’ Well, son of a b-tch, he got fired,” Biden said on the tape.
On “Hannity,” Nunes said he has been to Vienna but that he was not there in 2018, contrary to the story by CNN reporter Vicky Ward.
The congressman showed pictures of himself visiting Benghazi, Libya, and the island nation of Malta during that time.
“When they said I was in Vienna, I was in Benghazi,” he said, adding he was meeting with Libyan military officer General Khalifa Belqasim Haftar, leader of the Libyan National Army.
The visit to Malta, Nunes claimed, was for a “repatriation ceremony” after the remains of a soldier were found in the Mediterranean Sea.
“I was not meeting with Ukrainians in Vienna in December 2018 … They shouldn’t be listening to somebody who’s been indicted. It’s really really bad on their part. It’s reckless,” he added, referring to CNN’s source for the story, Lev Parnas, a man recently indicted by the U.S. government and charged with multiple federal crimes.
The CNN story said Parnas’ attorney told them his client was willing to tell Congress about Nunes’ travels. The lawsuit includes a tweet sent by MSNBC justice and security analyst Matthew Miller, who publicly questioned Parnas’ credibility.
“This is [the] absolute definition of fake news,” Nunes said. “We need to go to a jury trial and let a jury decide whether or not what’s been done here is appropriate.”
He accused the Atlanta-based news network of having an “ax to grind” with him over his politics, claiming its reporters have been “chasing [him] around in the Capitol … always with smears, always with lies, always with fake news.”
Nunes added he has held to a personal “rule” governing CNN reporters: “Until you retract [the story], I’m not acknowledging any question that you give me in this lifetime or the next lifetime.”
The 47-page lawsuit, filed in Alexandria, Va. federal court accuses the network of publishing “numerous egregiously false and defamatory” statements about Nunes on Nov. 22, 2019, when Ward reported the claims about Shokin and the meeting in Austria.
The suit also named Ward and primetime host Chris Cuomo, the brother of New York’s governor. Cuomo, the suit alleges, helped promote the article.
Fox News’ Brian Flood and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.