The former president is seeking $475 million in punitive damages, according to the lawsuit.
Trump announced his intent to sue the network earlier this summer, saying in a statement he would “also be commencing actions against other media outlets who have defamed me and defrauded the public regarding the overwhelming evidence of fraud throughout the 2020 Election.”
The former president’s attorneys allege in the filing that CNN “has undertaken a smear campaign to malign the Plaintiff with a barrage of negative associations and innuendos, broadcasting commentary that he is like a cult leader, a Russian lackey, a dog whistler to white supremacists, and a racist.”
It also cited anchors, personalities and pundits on CNN using the term “Big Lie” to refer to Trump’s repeated false statements about the 2020 election and voter fraud as evidence of the outlet attempting to associate him with Adolf Hitler.
In order to prove defamation, public officials and other public figures must prove journalists acted with actual malice or reckless disregard for the truth in their reporting, a high legal bar to clear given First Amendment protections granted to the free press under the Constitution. The New York Times, for example, has not lost a defamation case in more than 50 years.
CNN is a frequent foil of Trump, his followers and allies, as well as conservatives more generally.