U.S. District Judge Robert E. Payne wrote that the Richmond, VA court “is not Nunes’ home forum, and therefore there is no logical connection between the events in this case and this district.” By contrast, the New York court is close to the defendants in the case, which include not just CNN but senior reporter Vicky Ward and anchor Chris Cuomo. The judge also said that he had “significant concerns about forum shopping,” or that Nunes and his legal team were seeking a venue that is known for its speedy disposition of cases, or a “rocket docket.”
Nunes, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, sued the network in December, amid impeachment proceedings for President Donald Trump.
He sued over a November 22 report that Lev Parnas, the indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani, was prepared to tell Congress that Nunes met with Victor Shokin, the former Ukrainian prosecutor, in Vienna last year to discuss “digging up dirt” on Joe Biden. Nunes said he never has met Shokin. He also denies that he took a trip to Vienna in December 2018 or that he communicated with Parnas.
The decision means that it will be up to a New York court to decide on CNN’s motion to dismiss the case.
In its motion to dismiss, CNN defended the report, noting that it quoted Parnas’ lawyer, Joseph Bondy, on the record. “CNN’s reporting of what Mr. Bondy said on the record, as a lawyer, was truthful and accurate,” the network said. It also noted that it “had made multiple attempts to seek comment from Rep. Nunes prior to reporting this story, but that he and his staff had declined to comment on whether Rep. Nunes had met with Mr. Shokin.”
CNN also noted that its report cited government travel records showing that Nunes traveled to Europe along with several aides from November 30 to December 3, 2018, “when he was said to be meeting with Mr. Shokin,” and that it explained that Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) discussed a similar story from The Daily Beast during a Nov. 21 impeachment hearing.
“Notably, the very same day Rep. Nunes filed his lawsuit, the House Intelligence Committee published its Trump-Ukraine Impeachment Inquiry Report, which showed numerous calls between Mr. Parnas and Rep. Nunes and his staffer, Derek Harvey,” CNN said in its motion.
In response, Nunes’ legal team said that the statements about the contacts between Nunes and Parnas are “half-truths. They are disputed.”