President Donald Trump's reelection campaign filed a lawsuit against Wisconsin TV station WJFW-NBC in Rhinelander, Wis. on Monday, according to The Hill.
Trump's campaign is suing for defamation after WJFW aired an ad from the liberal super PAC Priorities USA that alleges Trump called the coronavirus a "hoax."
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The lawsuit seeks an undisclosed amount of money and legal fees and accuses WFJW of having “perpetrated a fraud on the public by recklessly broadcasting [Priorities USA’s] defamatory and false advertisement, which WJFW-NBC knew or should have known was produced through the use of technology that depicted a clearly false statement.”
The ad itself includes clips of President Trump downplaying the virus along with graphics showing statistics of rising cases. Priorities USA, the largest Democratic super PAC, has put nearly $7 million behind the ad that is running in Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
"Our ad uses a series of Trump's own words to show that he downplayed the threat of the pandemic even as the infection spread," Josh Schwerin, a strategist for Priorities USA, told The Hill.
The Trump campaign sent cease-and-desist letters to WJFW and other TV stations in March, warning them that they would face legal action for running the ad.
“It is disappointing that WJFW-NBC would knowingly continue to broadcast this blatantly false ad and perpetrate falsehoods on the American people, even after the Trump campaign provided proof in good faith of the ad’s falsity,” Jenna Ellis, senior legal adviser to the Trump campaign, said in a statement. "The Trump campaign is now left with no other option than to use the force of law to ensure these false and defamatory ads cease."
Fact-checkers have since said that claiming Trump called the virus a "hoax" is incorrect, as his full quote shows he was describing Democratic efforts to politicize the virus.