Lawyer Robert Barnes sued lefty media personality Reza Aslan last year for a minimum of $135,000 in damages over his January 2019 tweet describing a Covington Catholic High School student’s face as “punchable,” and is hoping that he will be served with the lawsuit in the near future.
Aslan’s tweet—which had over 20,000 “likes”—featured an image of Nicholas Sandmann smiling at Native American activist Nathan Phillips and asks the question: “Have you ever seen a more punchable face than this kid’s?”
Up until Tuesday night, Aslan’s malicious tweet—see below— was still present on Twitter.
Barnes, a Los Angeles-based trial lawyer, suggested that Aslan removed the tweet because he had been served the lawsuit he had filed against the former CNN host on behalf of ten Covington families.
— Robert Barnes (@Barnes_Law) January 8, 2020
The lawsuit, which was filed in August 2019, seeks damages for alleged defamatory comments by 12 lawmakers, journalists and social media personalities.
“You had someone like [comedian] Kathy Griffin who called for them to be doxxed, called for them to be named and shamed. Many of them were doxxed in their local community. They received threats over the phone, threats through e-mail, threats to their homes,” Barnes told Fox News back in August.
He told American Greatness that he is representing nine Covington Catholic families for free and that the other suits are tied up in state court except for one, which is on appeal in the 6th Circuit. There were originally ten plaintiffs, he said, but one is stepping back to avoid name disclosure.
The lawsuit, obtained by American Greatness, states: “False and Defamatory Accusations against the plaintiffs are defamatory per se, as they are libelous on their face without resort to additional facts, and as clearly demonstrated here, [the plaintiffs] were subjected to public hatred, contempt, scorn, obloquy, and shame.”
The twelve individuals named in the suit are U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Congresswoman Deb Haaland (D-NM), New York Times lead political reporter Maggie Haberman, alleged comedian Kathy Griffin, ABC analyst Matthew Dowd, former CNN analyst Reza Aslan,
Kentucky businessman Adam Edelen, Professor Kevin M. Kruse, Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King, Mother Jones editor Clara Jeffery and Rewire News reporter Jodi Jacobson.
Barnes told PJ Media’s Tyler O’Neil that “he believes Aslan was served this week, because his team was not able to find the author’s address until last week.”
However, the lawyer later admitted to American Greatness that he has not yet confirmed that Aslan was served with the lawsuit. Aslan himself told American Greatness on Twitter that he has not yet been served.
“LOL. No,” he answered when asked.
“He will get it soon enough,” Barnes told American Greatness.
Barnes was the first lawyer to come out in defense of the Covington Catholic kids following the incident in Washington D.C. nearly a year ago.
Sandmann and his classmates were in D.C. on January 18, 2019, for the March For Life and were waiting near the Lincoln Memorial for their bus to take them back home to Kentucky when they were accosted by the Black Hebrew Israelites, a black separatist fringe group known for making outrageous, racist, anti-gay statements, and Phillips, who was participating in the Indigenous Peoples March. A selectively edited video showing Sandmann calmly smiling at Phillips while the activist chanted and banged a drum in his face was misconstrued to suggest that the Covington kids were taunting a “Native American elder.” In reality, the kids were jumping up and down with excitement because they thought Phillips had approached them in a show of support after they had endured over an hour of vicious verbal abuse from the Black Hebrew Israelites.
Thanks to malicious, one-sided reporting about the incident on the part of the agenda-driven media, the teens and their families became the subjects of threats and harassment from a hateful online outrage mob.
Aslan joined the fray early on with a heavily shared tweet declaring that Sandmann’s face was “punchable.”
The complaint accuses Aslan’s tweet of omitting the truth and implying a false narrative about the Covington kids that had dire consequences for each of them individually.
Indeed, they were individually identified as the subject of the statements complained of herein that they received death threats, hate mail, threatening phone calls, threatening emails, and other personal attacks on them each individually. They were known to be the subject of the statements complained of herein as they were identified by photo image throughout the world, and each of the statements was interpreted by their friends, family and associates as about them personally.
“The plaintiffs repeatedly offered each defendant publicly the opportunity to retract, correct, or delete their offending and defamatory statements, but each refused, continuing to share their defamatory comments with the public to this very day,” the complaint states.
“The conduct of the plaintiffs, based on the false facts the defendants placed and circulated into the court of public opinion, led to these lifetime labels on these minors: ‘display of hate, disrespect and intolerance’; ‘heartbreaking’; ‘decency decayed’; ‘racist’; ‘cried for America’; ‘infamous’; ‘gall’; ‘shameful’; ‘darker chapters’; compared to genocide; ‘laughing and egging on’ ‘hurtful’ behavior; ‘awful’; ‘cavemen gestures’; ‘taunting’; ‘harassing’; ‘stalking’; ‘mocking’; ‘bullies’ who should be doxed, ‘named and shamed’, expelled from school, denied admission to college, be punched in the face, and their lives ruined.”
The lawsuit is asking the court to award “damages in an amount not less than $15,000 but not more than $50,000 against each defendant” on behalf of each plaintiff. That adds up to $135,000—$450,000 against each defendant.
Barnes told this reporter on January 21, 2019 that he was working with the families pro bono to sue the media outlets that defamed them.
In a tweet on January 20, 2019, he vowed to represent them for free if they wanted to sue the NY Time’s Maggie Haberman.
— Robert Barnes (@Barnes_Law) January 20, 2019
The attorney said at the time that “anyone who doesn’t correct and retract” their false smears would be subject to a lawsuit and that updated stories merely indicating “a more complex picture has emerged” would not necessarily be enough.
“Big, big legal issues will be decided in the case,” Barnes told American Greatness Wednesday.
UPDATE Jan. 9, 2020 9:22 a.m.:
Aslan told American Greatness on Twitter that he removed the offending tweet himself a couple of days ago (after news about the CNN settlement with Nicholas Sandmann broke).
My wife had asked me to delete it and I do whatever my wife tells me to do. Then a couple of days ago, I saw that it had been remarked upon by this felon and adulterer you may be familiar with. I believe his name is Dinesh something. I realized I hadn’t and so I did. End of story
— Reza Aslan (@rezaaslan) January 9, 2020
UPDATE Jan. 9, 1:39 p.m.:
Nick Sandmann’s lawyer’s have angrily weighed in on Twitter, accusing Barnes of publicly suggesting that he is representing the Sandmann family. (Barnes stressed to American Greatness that he was not representing the teen—only the nine Covington families ).
2/ Barnes has been previously warned to stop publicly suggesting or stating that he represents Nicholas. In response, Barnes “blocked” @ToddMcMurtry & me on Twitter. Barnes apparently cannot control his desire to garner publicity by falsely using Nicholas’ name.
— Lin Wood (@LLinWood) January 9, 2020
4/ If Barnes does not cease publishing & then correct his prior false statements, Nicholas’ attorneys are fully prepared to take legal action against him. So Barnes can take the easy way out or he will get out the hard way – we will sue him. His choice.
— Lin Wood (@LLinWood) January 9, 2020
Barnes was reluctant to comment, saying that he feels the public sparing does nothing to help any of the parties concerned.
He did offer the following statement: “It appears there was an unfortunate misunderstanding that has since been corrected. I keep my clients’ names confidential to protect them from being double-doxxed after the threats they got the first time around. I do not represent Sandmann; Sandmann’s lawyer is Lin Wood.”