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Lawyer for Covington Catholic Student Nicholas Sandmann Launches Kentucky Congressional Primary Bid

Nathan Phillips (right) confronts a student from Covington Catholic High School in Washington, D.C., January 18, 2019. (Kaya Taitano/Social Media/via Reuters)

The lawyer for Covington Catholic student Nicholas Sandmann is launching a primary bid against Republican Representative Thomas Massie in Kentucky’s 4th congressional district.

The move comes after McMurtry oversaw a settlement on Tuesday between CNN and his client Sandmann, the Kentucky teen who sued multiple media organizations over their coverage of his viral encounter with a Native American man near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. last year.

On January 18, 2019, viral video of Sandmann, then a junior at Covington Catholic High School, showed him standing face to face with Nathan Phillips, a Native American man who was participating in the Indigenous Peoples March. Sandmann and his classmates wore “Make America Great Again” hats and were in Washington for the anti-abortion March for Life.

Initial coverage of the encounter, during which Sandmann stood still and occasionally smiled as Phillips played a drum inches from his face, was used to portray Sandmann as a racist trying to antagonize Phillips. NBC asserted that Sandmann “blocked” Phillips and “did not allow him to retreat” during their interaction. Longer versions of the video later showed that Phillips approached Sandmann.

Sandmann’s lawyers said the lawsuits were over the “emotional distress Nicholas and his family suffered.” His family had to move out of their home temporarily after the media coverage.

The amount of the settlement with CNN was not made public, but Sandmann’s suit sought a total of $800 million from CNN, the Washington Post and NBC Universal.

Sandmann and McMurtry will now focus on their lawsuits against NBC and the Washington Post and “additional defendants to be named soon,” McMurtry said on Tuesday.

McMurtry’s Kentucky congressional campaign argues that President Trump cannot count on Massie’s support. Massie, who has represented his district since 2012, has raised more than $121,000 and has $242,000 cash on hand, according to his campaign’s most recent data.

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