Multiple prominent journalists and lawmakers have been slapped with a lawsuit by lawyer Robert E. Barnes, who represents numerous Covington Catholic students.
The lawsuit was filed Aug. 14, 2019, and ten people are being sued for defamation. Among those being sued include 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, CNN political commentator Ana Navarro, New York Times journalist Maggie Haberman, writer Shaun King and six others, according to a court filing obtained by the Daily Caller.
The others named in the lawsuit are Democratic New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland, political consultant Matthew John Dowd, comedian Kathy Griffin, ABC analyst Matthew Dowd, former CNN commentator Reza Aslan, Princeton University professor Kevin M. Kruse, editor of Mother Jones Clara Jeffery and author Jodi Jacobson.
Aslan received backlash after a January 2019 tweet asking Twitter users if they had “ever seen a more punchable face than” Covington Catholic student Nick Sandmann. The tweet was deleted Wednesday evening.
Barnes confirmed that he is not representing Sandmann in a tweet Thursday morning.
All #CovingtonBoys I represent retain anonymity as John Does (Nick Sandmann, who went public, is not my client). The reason to protect their privacy is the threats they already faced. A key precedent we seek: you should not forfeit your privacy to sue for invasion of privacy.
— Robert Barnes (@Barnes_Law) January 9, 2020
“Aslan helped lead social media lynch mob encouraging violence against a bunch of kids, then refused to even apologize when it was shown he was dead wrong,” Barnes told the Daily Caller.
Aslan has not yet responded to the lawsuit, Barnes added. It is not known if any of the other people being sued have responded to the lawsuit or when they were served with it.
— Robert Barnes (@Barnes_Law) January 8, 2020
Aslan wrote Thursday he “thought” he had deleted the tweet “a long time ago,” adding that his wife asked him to do so.
My wife had asked me to delete it and I do whatever my wife tells me to do. Then a couple of days ago, I saw that it had been remarked upon by this felon and adulterer you may be familiar with. I believe his name is Dinesh something. I realized I hadn’t and so I did. End of story
— Reza Aslan (@rezaaslan) January 9, 2020
The defamation lawsuit includes negligent infliction of emotional distress, harassment, and intrusion on seclusion. Barnes is seeking between $15,000 and $50,000 for each of the ten Covington Catholic boys, who have remained anonymous.
“A field trip to our nation’s capital for a group of minors from Covington, Kentucky turned into a social media nightmare that changed their futures forever,” the lawsuit reads. “Several of our Senators, most-famous celebrities, and widely read journalists, collectively used their large social media platforms, perceived higher credibility and public followings to lie and libel minors they never met, based on an event they never witnessed.”
“These defendants called for the kids to be named and shamed, doxxed and expelled, and invited public retaliation against these minors from a small town in Kentucky. The defendants circulated false statements about them to millions of people around the world.”
The Covington Catholic boys became notable after news outlets reported that Sandmann was mocking a Native American man, Nathan Phillips, while visiting Washington, D.C. in January 2019. (RELATED: Nathan Phillips Keeps Changing His Story, Still Keeps Getting It Wrong)
After media and lawmakers attacked Sandmann and the other boys, it became known that the Covington students were being verbally attacked by protestors nearby. CNN settled a lawsuit brought by Sandmann for an unknown amount Wednesday. The Covington Catholic student is also suing the Washington Post and NBC Universal.