A federal judge on Wednesday rejected a bid by former Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell and MyPillow founder Mike Lindell to toss three defamation lawsuits filed by the voting machine manufacturer Dominion, Politico reports.
Judge Carl Nichols rejected a claim by the trio’s lawyers that the lawsuits were legally deficient and ruled that they can proceed.
Nichols, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, rejected the lawyers’ arguments that they pushed a conspiracy theory alleging Dominion machines flipped votes from Trump to President Joe Biden because they were part of a political debate.
“As an initial matter, there is no blanket immunity for statements that are ‘political’ in nature,” Nichols wrote. “It is true that courts recognize the value in some level of ‘imaginative expression’ or ‘rhetorical hyperbole’ in our public debate. … But it is simply not the law that provably false statements cannot be actionable if made in the context of an election.”
Judge calls out Powell’s lies:
Nichols said that Powell made comments that could be proven true or false and that Dominion had a strong chance of showing that she knowingly lied about the company.
“The question, then, is whether a reasonable juror could conclude that Powell’s statements expressed or implied a verifiably false fact about Dominion,” he wrote. “This is not a close call.”
Nichols cited Powell’s claim to have video of Dominion’s founder saying that he could change large numbers of votes at will.
“These statements are either true or not; either Powell has a video depicting the founder of Dominion saying he can ‘change a million votes,’ or she does not,” Nichols said.
Nichols also rejected Powell’s argument that her statements could not have met the “actual malice” standard in defamation law because she was relying on sworn statements by people who claimed to have knowledge about Dominion.
“There is no rule that a defendant cannot act in reckless disregard of the truth when relying on sworn affidavits — especially sworn affidavits that the defendant had a role in creating,” Nichols wrote. “And Dominion alleges that Powell’s ‘evidence’ was either falsified by Powell herself, misrepresented and cherry-picked, or so obviously unreliable that Powell had to have known it was false or had acted with reckless disregard for the truth.”
Judge says Dominion could sue over deceptive trade practices:
Nichols also said that Dominion could press claims of deceptive trade practices against Powell and Lindell. Powell’s lawyers had argued that she could not be liable because she wasn’t “engaged in trade and commerce of goods.”
But Nichols said that Powell and Lindell both sought to profit financially from their false statements about the company.
“We are pleased to see this process moving forward to hold Mike Lindell, MyPillow, Rudy Giuliani, [and] Sidney Powell…accountable,” a spokesperson for Dominion told Politico.
Howard Kleinhendler, an attorney for Powell, said he was “disappointed” in the court’s decision.
“However, we now look forward to litigating this case on its merits and proving that Ms. Powell’s statements were accurate and certainly not published with malice,” he said. “We also anticipate taking full discovery of Dominion including a thorough review of its election software and machines used in the 2020 election.”