Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's brother and sister-in-law sued CNN in federal court for $75 million on Thursday, stating they were defamed by a report last month alleging they were members of the QAnon conspiracy group.
Jack and Leslie Flynn, who live in Rhode Island, alleged in U.S. District Court in New York City that the CNN report on Feb. 4 falsely portrayed them as members of QAnon by selectively airing video footage from a family outing last Fourth of July where they joined Michael Flynn in reciting the oath to the Constitution that members of Congress take.
At the end of oath, Michael Flynn uttered the phrase "Where we go one, we go all," and the entire family responded, "God Bless America." CNN edited out the pledge and the "God Bless America" exclamation and claimed the phrase uttered by President Trump's national security adviser was an "infamous QAnon slogan," the suit alleged.
In fact, Michael Flynn's phrase was drawn from an inscription first "engraved on a bell on one of President John F. Kennedy's sailboats, acknowledging the unity of mankind," the suit stated.
"General Flynn intended to encourage people to think about being good citizens, to love country and be good patriots," the lawsuit said. "The video had nothing to do with QAnon or recruiting 'digital soldiers' for an apocalyptic reckoning."
As a result, "CNN falsely accused Plaintiffs of being 'followers' and supporters of the 'dangerous,' 'violent,' 'racist,' 'extremist,' 'insurrectionist,' 'domestic terrorism movement – QAnon," the suit argued.
"Plaintiffs are not followers or supporters of any extremist or terrorist groups, including QAnon," it added. "CNN falsely attributed to Plaintiffs associations that never existed, actions Plaintiffs never took, including an oath of allegiance to QAnon, and views Plaintiffs never held."
CNN did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday afternoon left at its corporate press office in New York.
Steven S. Biss, the Flynns' lawyer, accused CNN of being "a Democratic Party trumpet that foreswore its role as an impartial reporter of facts and joined with political partisans in an overall plan or scheme to discredit the character of the Flynns. For that, it must be held accountable by a jury.”
Leslie Flynn said in a statement that her family was intent on fighting a disparagement campaign against Gen. Flynn's family.
"Enough is enough with CNN, and the lies about our family,” she said. "We cannot sit by any longer and allow CNN to disparage our good name. This has got to stop."
In the lawsuit, the Flynns alleged the CNN report caused their family "public scorn, ridicule and contempt, and lowered their esteem in the community, causing insult, embarrassment, humiliation and substantial injury to Plaintiffs' reputations."