The fix is in.
Former Congressman Devin Nunes and his family have suffered a major blow in their libel suits against Esquire Magazine and its writer, Ryan Lizza.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge C.J. Williams, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, ruled that claims made in Lizza’s article, “Devin Nunes’s Family Farm is Hiding a Politically Explosive Secret,” were accurate and that the libel suits brought by Nunes, his relatives and their business, NuStar Farms, were not valid.
The article claimed that the dairy farm owned by Nunes’ family members had hired undocumented workers and the court ruled that evidence developed during the litigation showed that the farm employed numerous workers who provided names and Social Security numbers that did not match Social Security Administration records.
The judge also said that there was testimony and evidence that the farm was warned about such mismatches, accepted expired credentials and did not properly complete forms designed to verify that workers were authorized to work in the U.S.
Six NuStar employees subpoenaed by Hearst and asked to produce identification and work authorization documents ultimately invoked their Fifth Amendment rights against self–incrimination.
In addition, the court noted that NuStar has never used the Department of Homeland Security’s voluntary program to check workers’ eligibility for employment, e–Verify.
This ruling is the latest in a string of losses for Nunes, who has filed at least 10 lawsuits against media organizations, journalists and critics he accused of defaming him.
The case against Lizza and Hearst was part of a flurry of lawsuits Nunes filed beginning in 2019. The most famous suit sought $250 million from Twitter, Republican political strategist Liz Mair and anonymous figures operating Twitter accounts labeled as “Devin Nunes’ Mom” and “Devin Nunes’ Cow.”
The Virginia judge dismissed Twitter from the case in 2020 and another judge ordered the suit dismissed against Mair and her firm in 2021. The suit against the operators of the anonymous Twitter accounts continues.
Lizza declined to comment on the ruling and a spokesperson for Hearst did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Nunes could appeal the judge’s ruling to the St. Louis–based 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.