Donald Trump Jr.’s contentious relationship with reality may be catching up with him. A judge on Wednesday delivered Jr. a legal blow, ruling that a defamation suit filed against him can, and will, move forward.
U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver Jr. took it one step further, rebuking Trump Jr.’s behavior from the bench.
The suit was first filed two years ago by West Virginia GOP Senate candidate Don Blankenship. Trumpland opposed Blankenship in the state’s 2018 primaries, so Trump Jr. took to Twitter to brand Blankenship a “felon.”
That was untrue. Blankenship was charged with felonies following a 2010 explosion in a mine he operated; he was convicted of a misdemeanor count.
The suit alleges there is substantial evidence Trump Jr. knew this at the time he blasted it out to his nearly seven million Twitter followers.
Via the ruling:
[P]laintiff alleges facts in support of the inference that Trump, Jr. issued the tweet with knowledge of its falsity: (1) Trump, Jr. was involved in high-level discussions about the primary campaign in West Virginia, (2) he made the statements shortly after one such meeting, (3) the comments were made as part of a string of false comments by sophisticated party operatives, (4) the true facts were widely available on the internet and had been widely reported, and (5) he never retracted or corrected the false tweets, despite being informed of their falsity.
Trump Jr. even repeated the false claim, responding to a Twitter user on May 3, 2018 by saying that, “[West Virginia incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin] had probably never run against a felon.”
“I have never been convicted of a felony,” Blankenship wrote to Trump Jr. the following day.
The tweets remained live until June 2018, reports The Washington Post. By then, Blankenship’s campaign was long over.
Ultimately, the judge found the plaintiff’s arguments were “sufficient at this stage to create a ‘plausible inference’ that Trump, Jr. published his tweet with knowledge of its falsity.”
But don’t expect the case to give Trump Jr. a newfound reverence for the truth. The same day the judge ruled, Trump Jr. was busy spreading more flagrant falsehoods.
After multiple sources debunked a story that the Taliban hanged a man from a United States helicopter left in Afghanistan, Trump Jr. chose a new Twitter profile banner depicting…an edited Biden campaign sign with a man hanging from a helicopter.