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Ventura: I’m Vindicated, But This Is No Victory

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(credit: CBS) Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Jesse Ventura spoke out this week after winning a defamation lawsuit against a best-selling book author.

The former Minnesota governor says he’s “rejuvenated” by the victory in federal court Tuesday.

A 10 member jury said the book “American Sniper” defamed Ventura by claiming he was “punched out” for making offensive comments about Navy SEALs.

It’s a claim Ventura denies.

The former governor broke his silence after Tuesday’s jury verdict in a series of interviews at WCCO-TV Tuesday and Wednesday. He said he may be vindicated, but it’s no victory.

“It’s been an exhausting two-and-a-half years,” Ventura said. “I don’t feel great. I mean I feel good for the fact that I have been vindicated.”

For three-and-a-half weeks in court, the usually talkative Ventura refused all comment on his high-visibility lawsuit.

He said Tuesday that that he first tried to settle it privately with the author Chris Kyle, Navy SEAL to Navy SEAL.

He says he was backed into a corner, and forced to sue.

“I had no choice,” Ventura said. “They would not settle. They would not admit that it did not happen.”

Kyle was murdered in Texas after Ventura filed the lawsuit, and he continued the court case against Kyle’s widow, Taya Kyle.

To critics who find that unseemly, Ventura says it’s irrelevant, and that the Kyle family needs to accept the verdict.

“To lump this in and say I went after a widow? I did not. I went after the truth,” Ventura said. “The truth is the truth, and it never occurred. And they need to come to grips that this never happened.”

Ventura says he feels “rejuvenated” after the jury verdict, but that he cannot repair his connection to the Navy SEALs, whom he says now view him with suspicion.

“That was the one place where I always felt safe,” he said. “It was the one place where I felt they would never be judgmental of me. And now I don’t dare go out there, because who’s going to have me in the cross hairs next?”

Ventura says after the lawsuit experience, he’s re-thinking his lifestyle. From now on, he’s living the majority of the year in Mexico, where he owns a home.

“My reputation is restored now,” he said. “What’s left of it.”

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