CORONADO, Calif. – A bar in Coronado, Calif., is at the center of a high-profile civil trial now underway in St. Paul, Minn., involving the state’s former governor, Jesse Ventura, and claims made in a book that he was punched by a Navy SEAL.
Ventura is suing the estate of SEAL Chris Kyle for what he claims are lies in Kyle’s 2012 book, “American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History.”
The lies, Ventura’s defamation suit claims, have tarnished his reputation as a patriotic American and also hurt his earning potential.
The bar in question is McP’s Irish Pub & Grill, a popular spot for Navy SEALs. A SEAL training base isnearby.
In his book, Kyle says that in 2006 he punched out someone he describes as a “scruff face” fellow at McP’s because he was being disrespectful toward President George W. Bush and the SEALs. At the time, SEALs were gathered for a wake in honor of Michael Monsoor, a SEAL killed in Iraq in 2006 who later was awarded the Medal of Honor.
In television interviews, and then a deposition, Kyle identified “Scruff Face” as Ventura.
In a short chapter titled “Punching Out Scruff Face,” the book says: “Being level-headed and calm can last only so long. I laid him out. Tables flew. Stuff happened. Scruff Face ended up on the floor.”
Ventura, now 63, sued Kyle. When Kyle, 38, was killed in February 2013 in an incident at a Texas shooting range, Ventura continued the lawsuit against Kyle’s estate.
Testimony on Tuesday appeared to undermine the assertion of Ventura, who served with a Navy underwater demolition team, that the event never occurred.
According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, several defense witnesses testified that they saw or heard something occur between Kyle and Ventura.
A former lieutenant commander testified that the next day, “Chris told me, ‘Jesse was running his mouth and I punched him.’ ”