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Tony Bobulinski is suing Fox News’ Jessica Tarlov for $30 million over a mistake she fixed the next day on-air

Tony Bobulinski, a former associate of Hunter Biden, testifies during a House Oversight Committee hearing on the ongoing the Biden Impeachment Inquiry, at the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

Tony Bobulinski, a former associate of Hunter Biden who has testified during the impeachment hearings against President Joe Biden, has filed a $30 million defamation lawsuit against Fox News host Jessica Tarlov regarding a comment she made on The Five

Tony Bobulinski, a former associate of Hunter Biden, testifies during a House Oversight hearing.

(Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

Tony Bobulinski, a previous associate of Hunter Biden who has given evidence in the impeachment hearings against President Joe Biden, has filed a $30 million lawsuit against Fox News host Jessica Tarlov regarding a comment she made on The Five and corrected on-air during the very next day’s show.

At issue is Tarlov’s discussion with co-host Jeanine Pirro on Wednesday, March 20, about whether Bobulinski’s testimony earlier that day implicated the Bidens in an influence-peddling scheme:

TARLOV: It does make sense because there is not the clear line that you guys have been alleging.

PIRRO: Yes there is. You just have to put the pieces together. Are you so simple that you cannot put together a circumstantial case where you take a piece from here, a piece from there, the money goes there, this is an eyewitness–

TARLOV: Ok, Tony Bobulinski’s lawyers’ fees have been paid by a Trump Super PAC. That’s as recent as January.

On Thursday, March 21, Bobulinski’s lawyer, Jesse Binall with the Binall Law Group, sent a letter to the Fox Corporation demanding a retraction and apology from Tarlov for claiming that his client’s legal fees were being paid by a Trump Super PAC, specifically threatening to “immediately file a defamation lawsuit against Fox, and Ms. Tarlov if this lie is not retracted by Ms. Tarlov on-air today.”

On that Thursday’s show, Tarlov did indeed address her comments from the previous day, saying:

I would like to clarify a comment I made yesterday during our discussion of Tony Bobulinski’s appearance at the congressional hearing. During an exchange with my colleagues about the hearing I said that Mr. Bobulinski’s lawyers’ fees have been paid by a Trump super PAC as recent as January.

What was actually said during the hearing was that the law firm representing Mr. Bobulinski was paid by a Trump PAC. I have seen no indication those payments were made in connection with Mr. Bobulinski’s legal fees and he denies that they were.

Apparently, this was insufficient for Bobulinski, and his lawyer followed up with another letter Friday, March 22, demanding a “complete retraction and apology” from Tarlov at the beginning of Friday’s show, along with the specific instruction that a photo of Bobulinski being sworn in before Congress should be shown. From Binall’s letter (emphasis in original):

To be clear, we demand a complete retraction and apology by Ms. Tarlov AT THE TOP OF TODAY’S SHOW while showing this photograph in which Ms. Tarlov clearly states that she explicitly “apologizes to Tony Bobulinski and Stefan Passantino for making a false claim on the air which harmed their reputations.” Ms. Tarlov must further state, “To be clear, it appears that Mr. Bobulinski has always paid all of his legal bills and there is no evidence that Mr. Passantino or his law firm accepted money from anyone other than Mr. Bobulinski for his representation.” These statements must be made without the petulant innuendo or further attempted mental gymnastics as we saw from her yesterday. Absent such statements, both he and Mr. Passantino will continue to be harmed.

Fox and Tarlov were unpersuaded and Friday’s episode of The Five passed without further apology or comment about Bobulinksi. Fox News instead replied in a scathing missive to Binall that made it clear the network viewed Tarlov’s correction as “accurate” and “will not be issuing any further correction.”

On Thursday, March 28, Bobulinski and attorney Stefan Passantino filed a lawsuit against Tarlov (not including Fox Corp. as they had originally threatened) in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Passantino, who has been representing Bobulinski regarding his testimony before the House Oversight Committee, is a former ethics attorney in Donald Trump’s Office of White House Counsel and was hired by the Trump Organization in January 2023 to assist with congressional inquiries into [Trump’s] business interests,” according to CNN. Passantino previously represented former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson regarding her testimony before the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, and his legal fees were paid by Trump’s Save America PAC.

Hutchinson ended up terminating Passantino’s representation over worries that he was loyal to the ex-president, not her, and secured her own pro bono counsel. She testified that Passantino encouraged her to mislead the committee and say that she did not clearly remember certain details about the events that day. According to Hutchinson, Passantino “never told me to lie,” but did repeatedly insist that saying “I don’t recall” was not perjury, and went so far as to urge her to stop cooperating with the committee in June 2022, ahead of her public testimony, telling her “contempt is a small risk, but running to the right is better for you.”

In the complaint, Bobulinski and Passantino claim that Tarlov lied about Bobulinski’s legal fees being paid by a Trump Super PAC:

Ms. Tarlov lied to achieve media headlines and ratings and to serve her political agenda by deliberately besmirching the character of Messrs. Bobulinski and Passantino. The assertion was unequivocally false and defamatory, and Plaintiffs demanded a complete retraction and apology on March 21, 2024, and again on March 22, 2024. Petulantly, Ms. Tarlov failed to retract and apologize, as is more fully addressed in this Complaint. Accordingly, Messrs. Bobulinski and Mr. Passantino seek to hold Defendant accountable for her malicious and knowing lies.

The complaint also includes several paragraphs praising Bobulinski’s background as “a decorated Navy veteran and successful businessman” who “considered himself a political moderate” and had previously supported Democrats but still “chose to prioritize principles over political party” and testify against the Bidens.

Several paragraphs follow, highlighting Passantino’s background as “one of the leading political lawyers in the country” with “an unblemished and highly distinguished career as a lawyer with extensive experience.” Cassidy Hutchinson’s accusations are not mentioned. Whether or not Passantino’s reputation can be harmed by accusations that his legal fees were paid by a Trump Super PAC, when that is exactly what happened for his representation of Hutchinson, will be left for the jury to decide — if the case even makes it that far.

The complaint accuses Tarlov of making deliberate and malicious comments on March 20 and denies that her March 21 correction was the “complete retraction and apology” they had demanded.

“Ms. Tarlov was aware at the time she made them that these false statements invoking President Trump would anger a segment of the country against Mr. Bobulinski and Mr. Passantino and would falsely cause her viewers to disbelieve Mr. Bobulinski’s sworn testimony,” the complaint continues, and includes a tweet by The Daily Beast’s Roger Sollenberger that Tarlov retweeted, claiming that was “exemplary of her awareness and pattern of hostile and malicious intent against Plaintiffs,” plus other critical comments about Bobulinski and other impeachment witnesses that Tarlov made on air.

The complaint includes three claims for various types of defamation and injurious falsehood and asserts that the plaintiffs have been harmed by Tarlov’s comment, including specifically claiming that Bobulinski “has suffered direct pecuniary losses,” “lost business opportunities,” and “money spent to protect and defend against Defendant’s attacks on his own reputation.”

Bobulinski and Passantino are collectively demanding $30 million in compensatory, special, and punitive damages, plus costs and attorneys’ fees.

The public relations firm representing Bobulinski forwarded the following quote from him to Mediaite:

Today I filed a lawsuit against Ms. Jessica Tarlov of Fox News for defamation. Although I am seeking compensatory, special, and punitive damages from her for the damage her public remarks inflicted on my personal and professional reputation, this is not about money. This is about the truth, for which I have been fighting for four years. It is important for media personalities like Ms. Tarlov to understand that lies have consequences. I have consistently told the truth to the American people about the deep corruption of the Biden family and will continue to do, and I have paid my legal expenses arising from my decision to come forward out of my own pocket. I will donate every penny I may be awarded in this suit to a children’s hospital and to support our military Veterans. Ms. Tarlov refused to apologize and sincerely correct the record. I look forward to holding her accountable in a court of law and to continuing to bring the truth to the American people.

A Fox News spokesperson responded to the lawsuit with the following statement to Mediaite:

Jessica Tarlov’s March 21st statements were accurate and made clear that she was not aware of anything to indicate that payments from a Trump PAC to Elections, LLC were made in connection with Tony Bobulinski’s legal fees. We stand by our decision to not issue any further corrections and will vigorously defend against these inaccurate claims.

Read the complaint below:

Bobulinski v. Tarlov Complaint by Sarah Rumpf on Scribd

Watch the clips above via Fox News.

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