California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes is suing Twitter and three individual Twitter users, accusing them of defaming him in order to derail his re-election campaign and deter him from the Russia investigation.
Nunes, an ally of President Donald Trump and former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, filed the complaint Tuesday in Virginia state court, seeking $250 million in damages and $350,000 in punitive damages.
The California congressman accuses Twitter of allowing the users to spread “false and defamatory statements” about him, alleging that the company harbors a political agenda against conservatives.
“As part of its agenda to squelch Nunes’ voice, cause him extreme pain and suffering, influence the 2018 Congressional election, and distract, intimidate and interfere with Nunes’ investigation into corruption and Russian involvement in the 2016 Presidential Election, Twitter did absolutely nothing,” the complaint says.
The lawsuit was first reported by Fox News, which posted a draft copy of the complaint on Monday. CNN has reached out to both Nunes’ congressional office and lawyer.
Twitter declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Nunes named Republican strategist Liz Mair and two other parody accounts – Devin Nunes’ Mom (@DevinNunesMom) and Devin Nunes’ Cow (@DevinCow) – in his lawsuit.
He accused Mair and the two other accounts of engaging in a “concerted defamation campaign” to “cause immense pain” and divert his attention from leading the House Intelligence’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Nunes pointed to several tweets that he said falsely accused him of federal crimes and includes vulgar language.
“Devin’s boots are full of manure. He’s udder-ly worthless and its pasture time to move him to prison,” reads one tweet from Devin Nunes’ Cow.
The Twitter account @DevinNunesMom was suspended after Nunes’ real mother complained, the complaint said. @DevinCow remains active and has gained followers since Nunes’ complaint was made public. The account posted Monday, “I’m not quitting my day job” in response to the lawsuit. Nunes has asked the court to reveal the users behind the two parody accounts.
Nunes told Fox News on Monday that the lawsuit will be “the first of many.”
“We’re actually going after Twitter first because they are the main proliferator and they spread this fake news and this slanderous news,” Nunes told Fox News.
Mair, who has been outspoken against the President and in 2015 set up an anti-Trump super PAC called “Make America Awesome,” said on Twitter that she is “declining comment on this for now.”
Nunes’ lawsuit also accuses Twitter of “shadow-banning conservatives” – where a user is unaware his posts aren’t viewable by others except him.
Twitter has denied that it “shadow bans” its users, adding that “we certainly don’t shadow ban based on political viewpoints or ideology.”
A frequent user of Twitter, Trump has slammed the company, claiming that it is biased against Republicans. The President tweeted about the news of Nunes’ lawsuit late Monday.
He later tweeted on Tuesday morning, “Facebook, Google and Twitter, not to mention the Corrupt Media, are sooo on the side of the Radical Left Democrats. But fear not, we will win anyway, just like we did before! #MAGA.”
CNN legal analyst Laura Coates said Tuesday the lawsuit is unlikely to go far.
“The notion that this would be an actual, valid lawsuit is a far-fetched one,” she said on CNN’s “Right Now,” adding that the law protects platforms like Twitter.
CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan contributed to this report.