CIRCULAR FIRING SQUAD
It appears that former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and Kentucky gubernatorial candidate Eric Deters have filed dueling lawsuits against one another arising in part from Lewandowski’s services on Deters’ behalf. According to the Louisville Courier Journal, Lewandowski sued Deters in federal court for the Eastern District of Kentucky on Monday for breach of contract, fraud and defamation. The breach of contract action claims that Deters failed to pay over $35,000 in fees allegedly owed to Lewandowski for services rendered. The fraud count alleges that Deters made the following material misrepresentations to Lewandowski: “(i) that he, Deters, was a well-respected Kentucky attorney; (ii) that he, Deters, was independently wealthy and had more than $5,000,000 in the bank; and (iii) that he, Deters, had sufficient funds to self-fund his campaign for Governor.” Lewandowski alleges that those representations were false when Deters made them and that Deters knew they were false.
The defamation count concerns a YouTube video posted on August 15. According to Lewandowski’s complaint, the video contains the following false and defamatory statements:
- Deters falsely claimed that he tried to renegotiate the Agreement, and Mr. Lewandowski “ignored him.” (at 1:33 in the video);
- Deters falsely claimed that Mr. Lewandowski and Lewandowski Strategic Advisors, LLC failed to write a fundraising letter attacking Senator McConnell, and thereby breached the Agreement (at 2:40 in the video);
- Deters falsely claimed that Mr. Lewandowski and Lewandowski Strategic Advisors, LLC “lied about the Trump endorsement” and the “timing of it” and falsely claimed that Mr. Lewandowski told Deters that Lewandowski spoke with Trump every day (at 2:54 in the video);
- Deters falsely claimed that Governor Kristi Noem fired Mr. Lewandowski and Lewandowski Strategic Advisors, LLC (3:15 in the video);
- Deters falsely claimed that Charles W. Herbster, a candidate for Nebraska Governor, fired Mr. Lewandowski and Lewandowski Strategic Advisors, LLC (3:18 in the video);
- Deters falsely claimed that Mr. Lewandowski told Deters that the reason that Mr. Lewandowski got hired as Trump’s campaign manager was that “no one wanted to do it” (3:37 in the video).
Lewandowski claims Deters made the statements “maliciously,” with knowledge of their falsity. Lewandowski is a public figure so to succeed on his defamation claim he’ll need to establish that Deters acted with “actual malice.” That’s a tough standard to meet, and it will be interesting to see if Lewandowski can back up his allegations with evidence. It’s also debatable whether all of the statements he alleges are defamatory. And it will be interesting to see how Lewandowski intends to prove the statements were false. Does he really talk to Trump every day? If not, then Deters’ statement about Lewandowski falsely claiming he talks to Trump every day isn’t false. Perhaps one of these guys will have to take Trump’s deposition.
On Tuesday, Deters fired back with a suit in Kenton Circuit Court against Lewandowski alleging that it was Lewandowski who breached the contract. According to the Courier Journal, Deters is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. Deters also filed a defamation suit against Lewandowski’s lawyer – Christopher Wiest.
Wow. Lots of litigation spurred on by a long shot candidacy. This one should be fun to watch play out.