Arpaio files $300M defamation lawsuit against CNN, other media outlets

Arizona's Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio filed a multimillion-dollar defamation lawsuit against several media outlets on Monday.

Arpaio’s suit lists CNN, CNN president Jeff Zucker and its anchor Chris Cuomo; HuffPost and its senior political reporter Kevin Robillard; and Rolling Stone and its staff writer Tessa Stuart, claiming that they falsely referred to him as a "convicted felon" despite his presidential pardon.

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The lawsuit, filed in Washington, D.C., is asking for $300,500,000 in damages and attorney fees. Arpaio, who ran unsuccessfully for the Senate this year, is being represented by Larry Klayman, the founder of Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch and a former federal prosecutor.

Arpaio claims in the lawsuit that CNN targeted him three separate times. The suit specifically refers to Cuomo calling Arpaio a “convicted felon” during a Jan. 10 segment. 

Arpaio, who called himself "America's toughest sheriff," was convicted of criminal contempt by a federal court in 2017 for disobeying a federal judge's order on detaining people suspected of being in the U.S. illegally.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch To ward off recession, Trump should keep his mouth and smartphone shut Trump: 'Who is our bigger enemy,' Fed chief or Chinese leader? MORE later that year pardoned Arpaio, a longtime political supporter, before he could be sentenced in a move blasted by Democrats and civil rights groups.

CNN has made no effort to correct its phrasing and the clip is still available online, the lawsuit states.

Similar statements were reportedly made by the other news outlets.

A Nov. 5 article from Robillard on HuffPost states that Arpaio had been "sent to prison for contempt of court."

Stuart reportedly referred to him as a “ex-felon” in a Nov. 13 article for the Rolling Stone.

Arpaio, who lost the Republican Senate primary in Arizona, writes in the lawsuit that he "intends to run again for a U.S. Senate seat or other public office in 2020 as a Republican and ardent supporter of President Donald J. Trump and his administration."

Arpaio argued the reports tarnished his "distinguished" 55-year career in law enforcement and politics and severely damaged his reputation among and with the Republican establishment, which hurts his political chances going forward.

"The false publications alleged herein all occurred in this district and are continuing," his attorney said in the 10-page complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Monday. 

"Plaintiff Arpaio’s chances and prospects of election to the U.S. Senate in 2020 have been severely harmed by the publication of false and fraudulent facts in the Defamatory Article. This also harms plaintiff financially, as his chances of obtaining funding from the Republican establishment and donors for the 2020 election have been damaged by the publication of false and fraudulent representations in the defamatory article" in Rolling Stone.

A CNN spokesperson declined The Hill's request for comment. 

This is not the first time Arpaio has taken legal action against the media.

He filed a $147.5 million libel suit against The New York Times and a member of its editorial board in October. 

—Lydia Wheeler contributed.