George Santos, ABC Square Off in Court Over Kimmel Cameo Suit

Disgraced former congressman George Santos appeared in federal court Thursday afternoon, but for once he wasn’t the defendant. That honor went to Jimmy Kimmel.

The pretrial conference, which Kimmel did not attend, offered a preview of what’s come when/if the case actually goes to trial.

Santos is suing Kimmel, ABC, and Disney for fraud, alleging that Kimmel misrepresented himself when he commissioned over a dozen Cameo videos from Santos in December.

The videos, purchased for $500 a piece, saw Santos reading from outlandish scripts and were aired on Jimmy Kimmel Live! under the rubric of a feature Kimmel dubbed “Will Santos Say It?

Santos alleges that Kimmel’s on-air use of the videos violated his copyright, and broke Cameo’s terms of service. Santos also argues that Kimmel committed fraud when he used aliases to commission the videos “for the sole purpose of capitalizing on and ridiculing” Santos.

At today’s pretrial hearing, lawyers for ABC argued that Kimmel’s use of the videos to mock a public figure is protected under the fair use doctrine, because they illustrated the expelled congressman’s “apparent willingness to say patently ridiculous things for money.”

Both sides told the judge they were unwilling to settle the case and that they intended to bring it to trial.

Santos appeared to be reveling in the attention. “Let’s see if @jimmykimmel puts up or shuts up today,” he wrote in a post to Twitter/X earlier in the day. “After all this is your dream coming true, as you said so yourself on air.”

“I can’t wait to see if Jimmy shows up or if he’s going to hide behind his little corporate lawyers,” Santos said in a video attached to his post. (Side note: Santos now describes himself in his Twitter profile as a “culture commentator at large.”

After news of Santos’ suit first broke in February, Kimmel described the case as “maybe the most preposterous lawsuit of all time,” joking that Santos, who himself was thrown out of congress for fraudulent schemes and brazen misrepresentations, was being represented by “the prestigious law firm of Pot, Kettle, and Black.”

Kimmel, of course, has been in the headlines late this week for a feud with a much higher profile republican politician. Just yesterday, Donald Trump took a swipe at Kimmel in a puzzling Truth Social post that prompted a bruising response from the ABC late-night host.

Santos separately faces 23 federal charges in the Eastern District of New York, including for identity theft and money laundering. That trial has tentatively been set for September of this year.

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