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Top Advisor to Rep. Nunes Sues CNN, Lev Parnas, and others in $30 million defamation action

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Derek Harvey, a top advisor to Ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Rep. Devin Nunes, is suing CNN, along with several other defendants, for defamation, alleging that a series of stories beginning in November, 2019 falsely suggested he participated in an effort to “aide and abet the commission of criminal, unethical and dishonest conduct.”

Retired Army Col. Harvey, a long-time military intelligence officer, who also worked as a Middle East analyst and expert for the White House National Security Council, filed the lawsuit Wednesday. Harvey, who is not a public figure, accused CNN of “false statements exposed Plaintiff to public scorn, ridicule and contempt. Defendants attributed to Plaintiff statements he never made and imputed to him deception, lack of integrity, and ethical improprieties that severely prejudiced Plaintiff in his employment.”

“CNN chose to tarnish the reputation of Colonel Derek Harvey based on the word of a renowned liar,”

Steven Biss, Attorney for Derek Harvey

Harvey’s attorney Steven Biss, who also represented Nunes in several defamation lawsuits against the media, filed the detailed 45 page complaint against CNN, as well as Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian born businessman who turned on then associate and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani after being charged by the Justice Department for defrauding investors in his company. The complaint filed Wednesday afternoon, also named Parnas’ lawyer Joseph Bondy, a criminal defense attorney, in the lawsuit. Bondy participated in tweeting and allegedly defaming Harvey while representing Parnas.

“CNN chose to tarnish the reputation of Colonel Derek Harvey based on the word of a renowned liar,” said Biss to this reporter. “Even Jake Tapper acknowledged that Parnas had no credibility.  That’s a huge admission.  These demonstrably false statements about Colonel Harvey and Devin Nunes should never have been published.”

Biss pointed out in the complaint that “CNN, Parnas and Bondy published the Defamatory Statements as part of a broad smear campaign orchestrated by House Democrats and other powerful interests within the United States to discredit Plaintiff (and Nunes) and to further the goal of impeaching the President.”

He also noted that “the millions who read the defamatory statements clearly understood them to be referring to Plaintiff [Harvey] and clearly understood them to convey a defamatory meaning, including that Plaintiff committed federal crimes, aided and abetted the commission of crimes, or otherwise engaged in unethical and dishonest conduct.”

CNN officials could not be immediately reached for comment. In January, CNN has settled a defamation lawsuit with a Kentucky high school student Nicholas Sandmann. He sought $275 million in damages, however, the actual amount of the settlement was never disclosed.

In one instance, Harvey points out that CNN allegedly defamed him in a story written November, 2019 that stated “Nunes had “meetings … in Vienna last year with a former Ukrainian prosecutor to discuss digging up dirt on Joe Biden … Parnas was told directly by the former Ukrainian official that he met last year in Vienna with Rep. Devin Nunes … Nunes and three aides traveled to Europe from November 30 to December 3, 2018 … Nunes’ entourage included retired colonel Derek Harvey”

Neither Harvey, nor Nunes, traveled to Vienna to “dig up dirt on Joe Biden,” based on established evidence and testimony.

In another instance Biss establishes in the complaint that “Bondy, told The Washington Post that Ukraine’s former top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, informed Parnas that he had met with Nunes in Vienna in December 2018 … Bondy also said that a top aide to Nunes, Derek Harvey, sometimes joined a group that met frequently in spring 2019 at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., to discuss the Biden matter … The group, according to Bondy, was convened by Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, and included Parnas, his business associate Igor Fruman, as well as journalist John Solomon and the husband-and- wife legal team of Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing. The information about Nunes’s meeting with Shokin and Harvey’s meetings with Giuliani were first reported by CNN on Friday.”

The complaint alleges that Bondy’s assertions are categorically false. Bondy could not be immediately reached for comment.

A source familiar with the lawsuit said it was an important step in getting to “first, correct the record and two to get the media to correct the record because if anything, these institutions, like CNN and others, have a responsibility to get it right.”

You can follow Sara A. Carter on Twitter @SaraCarterDC and on Parler @SaraCarterOfficial

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EXCLUSIVE: Former Trump appointee explains an ‘America First Strategy’ in the ME

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Photo: Israeli Government

The author interviewed Ellie Cohanim, one of the authors of the new book: “An America First Approach to US National Security.” Ellie is the former U.S. Deputy Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism under the Trump administration. She is currently a Senior Fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum focusing on Iran, Israel, and global antisemitism, and is a national security contributor for the Christian Broadcasting Network. In 2021, Ellie launched and hosted for Jewish News Syndicate 30 plus episodes of the show “Global Perspectives with Ellie Cohanim.” Ellie spent 15 years in media and NGO management before serving in the public sector. How would you define an “America First” strategy in the Middle East?

Cohanim: An America First strategy in the Middle East would seek to advance American national security interests in that region, while maintaining our status as THE global superpower. To do that, the US would ensure that our principal allies in the region, countries like Saudi Arabia and Israel, are economically and militarily strong, and that our adversaries in the region are deterred.

Postal: How has the United States’ standing in the Middle East differed between the Trump and Biden administrations?

Cohanim: Under President Trump, for four years we had peace, stability and prosperity in the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region. Under President Biden, in just three tumultuous years there has been war in the region, which holds the potential for becoming a regional conflict and even a nuclear confrontation. Meanwhile, the US’ status in the region and the world has diminished due to Biden’s disastrous mishandling of the Afghanistan withdrawal, his emboldening of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and his weak response to Iranian attacks on our personnel and assets in the region. 

 

Postal: Do you think the United States and Israel are/were in a stronger position to deter Iran’s nuclear and territorial ambitions in Biden or Trump’s administration?

Cohanim: America’s position of strength has not changed under either administration vis-à-vis the Islamic Republic of Iran. What has changed is our Iran policy. Under President Trump’s administration, the US contained and constrained Tehran. Trump applied a “Maximum Pressure” sanctions campaign which left the Iranian Regime with only $4 billion in accessible foreign currency reserves by the end of his term, giving the Iranians less cash and less ability to fund their terror proxies and their nuclear program, and Trump eliminated Qassem Soleimani. While all President Biden needed to do was to continue implementing such successful policies, his administration instead did the exact opposite.  Under the Biden administration, Israel, our leading ally in the region, was attacked for the first time directly from Iranian soil. This was an unprecedented escalatory attack by the Iranian regime, and could only happen under the Biden administration.

Postal: In your chapter of the book, you discuss the weakening of US relations with Israel and Saudi Arabia under the Biden administration. How has the Biden administration affected the likelihood of future normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and deals between Israel and other Muslim countries (i.e., new Abraham Accords)?

Cohanim: The good news is that the Abraham Accords have withstood the test of multiple Hamas provocations against Israel, and now the current war. Despite numerous claims from the Biden administration regarding “successful” efforts to normalize ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel, I do not think that the Biden administration will be able to clinch such a deal. In the Middle East, people have a long memory. Saudi Arabia’s de-facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has not forgotten President Biden’s snub when he first came into office, and Biden’s incredibly poorly advised behavior towards the Crown Prince when he made his first visit to the Kingdom as president. The last thing the Crown Prince wants is to hand Biden his first foreign policy success with a Rose Garden peace deal ceremony. So, I do not believe President Biden can broker Saudi/Israeli normalization.

However, I am also convinced that it is a matter of “when” and not “if” such a peace deal will happen between those two countries, as it serves both of their interests to make such a deal. The Saudis understand better than anyone that it is the Islamic Republic of Iran that threatens the Kingdom’s security and stability, not Israel.

Postal: What do you think of the Biden administration’s latest statements withholding arms to Israel?

Cohanim: President Biden will go down in history for his abject moral failure in not standing by Israel while she fights a five-front war. Biden has shown his despicable personality for trying to keep his anti-Israel arms embargo concealed until he could first deliver a speech on the Holocaust. Biden’s behavior is despicable on so many levels.

Ultimately, Biden is betraying the American people. He came into office presenting himself as a “centrist Democrat,” but has proven repeatedly to be beholden to the radical, extremist, pro-Hamas wing of his party.

Postal: How does the Biden administration’s support of a Palestinian state differ from the Trump administration’s support of a Palestinian state under its Peace to Prosperity framework?

Cohanim: The Biden administration stated that they will “unilaterally recognize” a Palestinian state. What the borders of that state are and who would lead it, nobody knows. 

The Trump administration’s “Peace to Prosperity” was a detailed plan that was premised on the realities on the ground in Israel. The plan required that the Palestinians reach benchmarks proving a real desire to live in peace with their Israeli neighbors. It included over $50 billion in investment in the region, which would have been a road to prosperity for all. Perhaps most significantly, the Palestinian state envisioned under the Trump plan would have been demilitarized, the wisdom of which could not be more clear following the October 7 massacre and attack.

The author would like to thank Ellie Cohanim for participating in this interview.

 

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