June 24, 2020

Trump campaign sues left-wing super PAC over sponsoring manipulated ad content

Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. today filed a complaint against Priorities USA (PUSA) for defamation in their sponsoring of an ad that includes false and libelous statements against the President. The fabricated ad produced by PUSA, a left-wing super PAC supporting Joe Biden’s candidacy,  spliced together separate clips from Trump campaign events in an intentionally dishonest manner to make it appear as though the President said coronavirus was a “hoax.” The filing against PUSA is made in conjunction with another lawsuit, filed in Price County, WI circuit court, against WJFW-NBC of Rhinelander, WI for continuing to run the defamatory PUSA ad despite receiving a cease-and-desist letter and supporting documentation.  This ad has been distributed via social media and broadcast through various media outlets, including television stations such as WJFW-NBC. 

"It is abundantly clear that Priorities USA supported fabricated digital content in a flagrant attempt to defame President Trump and a desperate attempt to save Joe Biden's sinking campaign,” said Jenna Ellis, Senior Legal Adviser to Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. “As a result of these intentionally deceitful actions, the Trump campaign is using the force of law to end circulation of these erroneous and defamatory ads. The American people should be able to trust in the accuracy of the content aired, especially in reference to their President, and these lawsuits will help ensure that both the sponsors of this ad and those circulating it are held accountable for their malicious actions."

PUSA knowingly manipulated audio from Trump campaign events to create an entirely false statement that was never said by President Trump: "The coronavirus, this is their new hoax.” As evidenced by his full remarks, President Trump was clearly referring to the Democrats’ politicization of the coronavirus pandemic and relating it to their reactions to the Mueller Russia hoax and sham impeachment proceedings.  President Trump never referred to the virus itself as a hoax.

Numerous popular fact-checkers and news reporters have declared the flagrant mischaracterization of the President’s remarks to be a falsehood:

The Washington Post: “The full quote shows Trump is criticizing Democratic talking points and the media’s coverage of his administration’s response to coronavirus. He never says that the virus itself is a hoax[.]” (Highest falsehood rating of Four Pinocchios.)

Slate’s Will Saletan: “He was saying the hoax is that he's handled it badly. Not the virus itself.”

CheckYourFact: “Trump referred to the alleged ‘politicizing’ of the coronavirus by Democrats as ‘their new hoax.’ He did not refer to the coronavirus itself as a hoax. Throughout the speech, Trump reiterates his administration is taking the threat of the coronavirus seriously.”

CBS 60 Minutes’ Scott Pelley: “He said the—the Democrats making so much of it is a Democratic hoax, not that the virus was a hoax.”

Snopes: “Trump did not call the coronavirus itself a hoax.”

PolitiFact: “The video makes it seem like Trump is calling the disease itself a hoax, which he hasn’t done.”

The President’s campaign is seeking unspecified monetary damages and legal fees.

Read the court filing here.

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