- A federal judge on Thursday weighed whether to dismiss Dominion’s defamation lawsuits.
- He seemed skeptical of arguments from lawyers for Rudy Giuliani, Mike Lindell, and Sidney Powell.
- Dominion is suing all three Trump allies over election conspiracy theories.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
A federal judge heard arguments Thursday over whether to allow multibillion-dollar defamation lawsuits from Dominion Voting Systems to proceed against Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell.
Over four hours of arguments, lawyers for each of the defendants tried to convince US District Judge Carl J. Nichols that Dominion’s lawsuits over their clients’ conspiracy theories about the 2020 election should be thrown out of court.
Dominion sued Giuliani, Powell, and MyPillow in three separate lawsuits filed in January and February, each one alleging $1.3 billion in damages.
Nichols did not issue an opinion from the bench at the conclusion of Thursday’s hearing, opting to deliver a written opinion at a later date. Dominion has asked for a jury trial in each case.
Giuliani represented now-former President Donald Trump as a lawyer in lawsuits seeking to overturn the election results. Powell was fired by Trump’s election team, but filed four failed lawsuits on her own seeking to do the same. And Lindell – while all other efforts to overturn the election were unsuccessful – has gone on an extensive media tour alleging Dominion has been manipulated by foreign actors and falsified the election results.
Attorneys for Giuliani, Powell, and Lindell have submitted a wide variety of legal defenses in recent months asking Nichols to throw out the lawsuits. They have argued that Dominion cannot prove their clients acted with “reckless disregard for the truth,” and that a federal court in Washington, DC, was the wrong venue for the legal action.
The law has a high bar for defamation lawsuits
Attorney Thomas Clare, representing Dominion in court Thursday, said he has convincingly shown in the lawsuits each defendant knowingly made false statements “with reckless disregard for the truth,” meeting the legal standard for a defamation case to proceed.
He pointed to Powell using manipulated documents in her lawsuits, Giuliani promoting the claims to make money off of cigar sponsorship deals, and that Lindell barreled past legal rulings, audits, and recounts to continue leveling claims while making money for MyPillow from Trump supporters.
Nichols expressed skepticism about some of the arguments asking to dismiss the case:
- Howard Kleinman, representing Powell, said Powell’s claims were initially made in lawsuits based on sworn statements, and should therefore be considered true for the sake of legal proceedings. Nichols pointed out that Powell repeated the same claims, without any kind of hedging, in multiple public appearances, not just in her lawsuits.
- Douglas Daniels, an attorney representing Lindell, said the pillow mogul’s comments about Dominion could not be considered defamatory because they were made within the context of a national debate about election security. Nichols pointed out that Lindell’s specific claims about Dominion – that it rigged the election – were different from a simple policy debate about electronic voter machines.
- Joe Sibley, representing Giuliani, said Dominion couldn’t show evidence it had lost government contracts because of the Trump lawyer’s allegations. Nichols asked whether the standard made sense, as not much time had elapsed since Giuliani’s claims.
Aside from their federal lawsuits with Dominion, each of the conspiracy theorists faces other headaches.
A New York court stripped Giuliani of his ability to practice law on Thursday, ruling he cannot be trusted because of his falsehoods about the 2020 election. He is also a subject of a Justice Department investigation reportedly examining his attempts to interfere in the 2020 election from Ukraine.
Powell is facing potential legal sanctions because of her false claims. She and Giuliani are also both targets of a defamation lawsuit from Smartmatic, a rival technology company they falsely claimed was in cahoots with Dominion to manipulate election results.
Lindell said he is losing money because of his claims about the election, and has filed a countersuit against Dominion in a federal court in Minnesota. His attorney on Thursday argued Dominion’s lawsuit should have been filed in Minnesota instead of DC, an argument the judge seemed skeptical about.