Cain aide: We're thinking about legal action against Politico

Mind you, at around the same time this WaPo scoop was breaking, Robert Costa of NRO was tweeting the following:

Block to @NRO 2nite: No more squabbling with campaigns over P’co story. No more fingerptng, period. “Sick of this,” he says of back-n-forth

Smart thinking. Best to forge ahead, hope the story sputters out this weekend, and get back to messaging about 9-9-9. Forget about Politico. Right?

Over to you, anonymous Cain aide:

A Herman Cain aide said Thursday that the Cain campaign is considering its legal options over the original Politico story, which revealed that the former head of the National Restaurant Association was accused of sexually harassing at least two women during his tenure in the 1990s.

“This is likely not over with Politico from a legal perspective,” a campaign official told the Post, stopping short of explaining what exactly he meant by taking legal action against the publication.

The Cain campaign has had an attorney advising it since Saturday on crisis management, which hasn’t gone particularly well for Cain since the story broke Sunday night.

This isn’t a real threat, just a bit of saber-rattling to impress primary voters who don’t know the ins and outs of defamation law. (The claim they’re hinting at here, presumably, is defamation. I don’t know what else it could be.) His lawyers would need to prove that Politico either knew their story was false or that they published it with reckless disregard for the truth. That’d be a mighty heavy lift considering (a) Politico relied on multiple, albeit anonymous, sources to substantiate its claims and (b) Cain doesn’t dispute the crux of the story, that he was accused of harassment by two women and they received settlements from the NRA. There’s no way Team Cain would file a suit that they’ll probably lose — the headlines in the aftermath would make it sound like the harassment charges had been vindicated — and even if they thought they’d win, they’d be saddling themselves with a completely unneeded distraction during the primaries. In fact, by the time this thing reached the litigation stage, the primaries would probably be long over and Cain’s fate already sealed one way or another. If he wins the nomination, who cares about beating Politico in court?

I’m not sure they could even use discovery to try to find out Politico’s sources. Again, that process would take so long that no one would care anymore by the time the names were revealed, and there’s a fair chance Politico would actually succeed in keeping the names confidential. Some states grant legal privileges to journalists in protecting their sources; Virginia, where Politico is based, is one. I won’t pretend to have a clue whether they’re likely to win or lose — here’s a primer, if you care — but they’d have a shot. And of course Team Cain knows it, which means the “maybe we’ll sue!” fireworks are really aimed at convincing grassroots conservatives that Politico’s story was so slimy and unfair that it might sink to the level of being legally actionable even though it almost certainly isn’t. Surf the wave of conservative outrage at media bias, Hermanator.

Here’s Perry on CNN tonight vowing that he won’t apologize when he didn’t do anything wrong.

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