Lawyers for MyPillow argue that, since Dominion develops technology used in elections, it’s effectively a government official. And since government officials need to clear a high bar to win defamation lawsuits, they argue the lawsuit can’t stand.
“At the heart of this case is the scope of an American citizen’s right to criticize how his government handles the counting of votes,” MyPillow’s lawyers write. “Were electronic voting systems used in the November 2020 election hacked and manipulated? Plaintiff Dominion’s billion-dollar defamation lawsuits and related public attacks against MyPillow and numerous others are an effort to choke off public discussion of these foundational political issues.”
“The defendants are claiming that because the plaintiff is performing a strictly government function they should be treated as a public official,” Frederick Schauer, a University of Virginia professor and First Amendment expert, told Insider. “That is not an implausible claim, nor is the response that the plaintiff is sufficiently down in the food chain that they cannot really be considered an official, even if they are doing something governmental under contract with the government.”
US District Court Judge Carl Nichols is expected to rule on that argument later this month. But even if he rules in MyPillow’s favor, that doesn’t necessarily mean Dominion’s lawsuit would be dead.
MyPillow could make it harder for Dominion to win its lawsuit
Dominion has sued Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani, Fox News, Newsmax, One America News, former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne, MyPillow, and Lindell. Smartmatic, a rival election technology company caught up in many of the same conspiracy theories, has also filed lawsuits against many of the same parties.
Nichols ruled in August that Dominion’s lawsuits against MyPillow, Giuliani, and Powell could go to trial. In a typical defamation lawsuit, plaintiffs need to prove the defendant acted with negligence in making false claims.
“The Sullivan ‘actual malice’ standard, which requires that the plaintiff show intentional falsity or something very close to it (refusal to investigate in the face of actual knowledge of possible falsity), applies to public officials as plaintiffs, and, as of a few years after Sullivan, public figures,” Schauer wrote in an email. “If the plaintiff is not a public official or public figure, then the plaintiff only has to show falsity and negligence. That’s a huge difference.”
MyPillow wants a judge to hold Dominion to that standard. Clay Calvert, a press freedom expert at the University of Florida, told Insider there’s a good chance the move could succeed.
“Government officials who are elected to public office are always considered public-official plaintiffs in defamation law,” Calvert explained. “For non-elected government employees to be deemed public-official plaintiffs, courts typically ask if the individual holds a position that has or appears to have substantial control or authority over government affairs and if the position invites public scrutiny independent and apart from the controversy at issue in the underlying defamation lawsuit.”
Dominion seems prepared to fight
In a blistering September court filing, Dominion argued the “actual malice” standards shouldn’t apply to its lawsuit. It’s a technology company, its lawyers said, not an administer of elections.
“No matter how many times Defendants falsely claim otherwise, Dominion is not a ‘public official,’ whether for defamation law purposes or any other,” Dominion’s lawyers wrote. “Dominion is a for-profit company that provides local election officials with tools they can use to run elections.”
Even if Dominion were to be held to a higher standard, legal experts told Insider Lindell’s statements about the company were so outrageous that Dominion has a good chance of winning the lawsuit anyway.
“If [what] they are arguing in the appeal is that the plaintiffs would have to show recklessness, they’re probably right about that,” Andrew Koppelman, a professor of political science at Northwestern University’s law school, told Insider. “On the other hand, as I look at the facts, the evidence of recklessness is overwhelming.”
Dominion’s September filing argued that an appeals court should turn down MyPillow’s arguments because they’re pointless: Even if the company were to be held to a higher standard, there’s enough “direct evidence” of Lindell’s conduct in the original lawsuit to keep it moving forward.
The company also pointed out that Lindell has continued to spread conspiracy theories, and wrote that it would include those incidents in an amended lawsuit if the court ruled against the company.
According to court rules, MyPillow’s appeal should only be granted if it helps speedily resolve the lawsuit. Dominion argues the best way to do that would be to simply move the case forward.
“The most efficient way to ‘materially advance the termination’ of this litigation is for this case to proceed expeditiously through discovery so that Defendants’ arguments that they did not act with actual malice, however wrongheaded, can be evaluated on a fully developed evidentiary record,” Dominion’s lawyers wrote.
Former Trump attorney Sidney Powell bizarrely claimed US votes are manipulated in a secret server.
There is no evidence to support the claim – Powell has shared multiple debunked conspiracy theories.
Two election technology firms are already suing Powell for defamation in lawsuits totaling $4 billion.
Former Trump attorney Sidney Powell has shared a baseless claim that all US votes are sent to a secret server where they are manipulated to rig the outcome of elections.
“What I think really has to be discovered is that there is a secret server that all the votes go to where they manipulate the heck out of it,” Powell told “The Ledger Report,” a conservative talk show, on Friday.
“We need to know where their servers are and what they’re doing with them, and we need the data from them and we need the data from the machines.
“But they’re going as fast as they can, right now, everywhere they can to completely revamp the machines with new software that erases everything that shows what they did.”
Rudy Giuliani admitted under oath that his “evidence” of voter fraud in the 2020 election came partly from Facebook and that he did not interview or fact-check his sources, reports say.
Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer made the comments in a deposition on August 14 in relation to a defamation lawsuit brought by a former Dominion Voting Systems employee, Eric Coomer, MSNBC reported.
Coomer is suing the Trump campaign and others for promoting baseless conspiracy theories that he helped “rig” the election for Joe Biden.
In the deposition, Giuliani admitted that he got some of his information about Coomer’s alleged role in the election fraud from his social media posts but couldn’t be sure if it was Facebook or another platform, MSNBC said.
“Those social media posts get all one to me,” Giuliani said.
When questioned about whether he saw any other evidence linking Coomer with election fraud, he responded, “Right now, I can’t recall anything else that I laid eyes on.”
The conspiracy theories about Coomer were sparked by accusations made by right-wing podcast host Joe Oltmann.
Oltmann claimed to have infiltrated an Antifa conference call in which someone who identified themselves as “Eric from Dominion” boasted about preventing Trump from winning the election, The New York Times reported. Oltmann offered no proof of his claims.
The podcast host then found Eric Coomer’s Facebook profile, on which he supposedly had written anti-Trump messages.
Giuliani and other Trump allies seized upon Oltmann’s allegations, repeating them in a now-infamous November 19 press conference.
” One of the Smartmatic patent holders, Eric Coomer, I believe his name is, is on the web as being recorded in a conversation with ANTIFA members saying that he had the election rigged for Mr. Biden,” Giuliani said.
But according to court papers filed by Coomer’s lawyers, Giuliani spent “virtually no time” investigating the claims.
The filings said that Giuliani did not speak to Oltmann about the claims and did not reach out to Coomer or Dominion about them.
Giuliani said he was too busy when asked why he repeated Oltmann’s accusations without verifying them.
“It’s not my job in a fast-moving case to go out and investigate every piece of evidence that’s given to me,” Giuliani said in the deposition, reported by MSNBC.
“Why wouldn’t I believe him? I would have to have been a terrible lawyer… gee, let’s go find out it’s untrue. I didn’t have the time to do that.”
After being named by Giuliani and lawyer Sidney Powell in the November press conference, Coomer briefly had to go into hiding.
Trump and his allies have continued to promote baseless conspiracy theories that the 2020 presidential election was rigged.
A group of eight Michigan poll challengers is suing Dominion Voting Systems after the company sent them cease and desist letters.
First reported by The Daily Beast, the group is being led by a former “Stop the Steal” attorney, Kurt Olsen, who attempted to convince the US Department of Justice to file a lawsuit regarding the 2020 election to the Supreme Court as part of an effort to undermine President Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
Famed Democratic attorney and former lawyer for President Donald Trump, Alan Dershowitz, is also a part of the group’s counsel. He told The Daily Beast he’s an “adviser and consultant on the First Amendment issues of this case.”
Eight of the state’s challengers from the 2020 presidential election said they received cease and desist letters from Dominion after they inquired about potential irregularities in the election despite never mentioning Dominion in their formal challenges.
In the letters, Dominion instructed the challengers to stop speaking about Dominion and to preserve any communications with members of the Trump campaign, Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, and other Trump attorneys.
The company has sent over 200 cease and desist letters in total to people challenging the company’s integrity and quality of its election services. Other than changing the name of the person the letters are addressed to, each of the cease and desist letters provided as evidence in the new lawsuit appears to be identical and fails to mention any of the election challenges brought forth by any of the plaintiffs.
While the challengers were never sued by Dominion itself, they allege the cease and desist letters instilled a sense of fear for their businesses, safety, and even an unborn child.
“After being threatened and in fear of her life and that of her unborn child while working at the TCF Center, this letter exacerbated all of those feelings,” the lawsuit says regarding one of the plaintiffs, Kathleen Daavettila. “Why was she being threatened with a lawsuit? How would this affect her family?”
The lawsuit claims that Dominion violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, more commonly known as the “RICO Act,” which allows for the prosecution against organized crime, though is notoriously difficult to prove in the court of law.
The group also claims Dominion violated the Equal Protection Clause, acted as a part of a civil conspiracy, and deprived the poll watchers of their First Amendment Rights.
As a private company, Dominion traditionally cannot be found liable under the Equal Protection Act or First Amendment, however, the lawsuit claims the company acted as a “state actor” because it was tasked by the government to run elections using its machines and software.
The poll watchers demand a trial by jury and are looking for Dominion to pay for damages and attorneys fees. No hearings have been set for the lawsuit as of yet.
Dominion did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Sidney Powell, the attorney who filed multiple lawsuits in an effort to overturn former President Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss, on Friday filed a countersuit against the voting-technology company she accused of manipulating the results, according to new court documents.
Powell emerged a key figure in the spread of election conspiracy theories last year, falsely claiming that Dominion Voting Systems tilted the US election to boost now-President Joe Biden.
She also alleged – without evidence – that Dominion secretly aided a rival election-technology company, Smartmatic, and had links to the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Dominion filed a defamation lawsuit against Powell earlier this year in pursuit of $1.3 billion in damages. Powell has been unable to get the lawsuit tossed in court and subsequently filed her counterclaim against company on Friday.
In her filing against Dominion, Powell called the company’s demand for $1.3 billion “ludicrous,” and said the company’s legal action was “diverting attention from the failings of its election equipment, trying to change the ‘narrative’ that was exposing Dominion’s serious flaws and wrongdoing, and avoiding post-election inquiry into voting irregularities in the 2020 election.”
She is seeking $10 million in damages.
In May, Powell’s lawyers argued that their client was being unfairly targeted among individuals who falsely claimed that Dominion conspired to alter the election results against Trump. Their filing, which was intended to support a motion to dismiss the case, argued that Dominion lacked the standing to sue Powell.
Despite her claims, Powell has so far been unable to validate any of the election theories or irregularities that she claims were prevalent in the 2020 election, and state election officials have roundly dismissed her accusations.
Powell, whom Trump brought on to his legal team during the turbulent post-election period in November 2020, was eventually purged from the campaign team. But just weeks later, The New York Times reported that Trump had invited Powell to the White House to discuss the possibility of her becoming a special counsel investigating voter fraud.
Mike Lindell reportedly paid more than $3 million to several advisers and “white hat hackers” who failed to provide evidence of voter fraud at the 2020 presidential election, Salon reported.
At Lindell’s 72-hour “cyber symposium” in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the experts were meant to reveal concrete proof that China helped Joe Biden “steal” the 2020 election, but this did not happen.
Rob Graham, a cyber expert who attended the event said it was just full of “random garbage that wastes our time.”
For its report, Salon spoke to Josh Merritt, a former member of Lindell’s “red team,” at the event, who said the money was split among a group of Lindell’s cyber experts.
Merritt told the outlet that most of the money went towards a $1.5 million luxury home in Naples, Florida, for Dennis Montgomery. According to the outlet, Montgomery is a discredited former government contractor and part of Lindell’s inner circle.
The reported purchase appears to have been completed on July 12 – weeks before Lindell’s voter-fraud event. According to Salon, Montgomery did not even attend the event.
Montgomery did not return Salon’s request for comment.
Khaya Himmelman, a reporter for the Dispatch, attended Lindell’s cyber symposium. She told Salon: “It’s so obvious Lindell was taken for a ride. I’m not surprised about Montgomery’s involvement, but I couldn’t have guessed a house in Florida was involved. I’m only left wondering how Lindell fell for it.”
Salon reached out to Lindell for comment but said he hung up. Lindell did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
During an interview for the Australian Broadcast Company’s two-part series, “Fox and the Big Lie,” Sidney Powell struggled to respond to “basic factual errors” that correspondent Sarah Ferguson pointed out in her claims and threatened to end the interview.
At one point during the interview, Powell responded to a line of questioning by asking Ferguson if she works for Smartmatic and stated that she was confused about why Ferguson came to interview her in Highland Park, Texas.
“Because you’ve made a series of very strong allegations against Smartmatic and against Dominion containing many errors of fact,” Ferguson responded.
Shortly after, Powell attempted to stop the interview, saying it was “wholly inappropriate” because of pending litigation.
After reluctantly returning to finish the interview, Powell continued to stick by her baseless claims that widespread election fraud was perpetrated in 2020.
“I am saying that thousands of Americans had some role in [2020 election fraud], knowingly or unknowingly. It was essentially a bloodless coup where they took over the presidency of the United States without a single shot being fired,” Powell said.
After Powell added that the election fraud had been planned for at least three years, Ferguson asked her, “Do you ever hear yourself and think it sounds ridiculous?”
“No, I know myself very well. I’ve been in me a long time. I know my reputation. I know my level of integrity,” Powell replied.
Powell formerly served as a federal prosecutor and represented former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to making false statements to FBI investigators in 2017 and was later pardoned by then-President Donald Trump.
A pro-Trump election official in Colorado is accused of assisting in the compromising of voting machines and allowing someone to leak sensitive data to a prominent QAnon influencer, according to Vice.
Tina Peters, a county clerk in Mesa, Colorado, and so-called “Trump Truther,” permitted surveillance cameras to be turned off for up to two months, it is alleged. During that time, she has allowed someone to steal information that was then leaked to QAnon figurehead Ron Watkins, the media outlet reported.
At some point in May, Peters’s office reportedly ordered officials to turn off the surveillance cameras monitoring Mesa County’s voting equipment, according to evidence from Colorado’s Democratic Secretary of State Jenna Griswold.
The cameras were not turned on again until this month, Vice reported, which broke the equipment’s “chain of custody” and means that the machines cannot be used in November’s city, town, and school district elections.
“This is troubling for the entire state of Colorado to have someone in a trusted position, literally trusted to protect democracy, allow this type of situation to occur,” Griswold said during a Thursday press conference. “To be very clear, Mesa County Clerk and Recorder allowed a security breach and by all evidence at this point assisted it.”
On May 23, an unknown person gained access to one of the Election Management Systems machines from Dominion Voting Systems used by Mesa County, Vice reported. That person was then able to download an image of the machine’s hard drive, a process repeated on May 26, a cybersecurity expert told Vice.
On May 25, Dominion employees visited the country to conduct a highly-regulated “trusted build” upgrade to the voting machines’ software, the media outlet said.
According to state law, only staff from Griswold’s office, Mesa County, and Dominion are permitted to be in the room during a “trusted build.”
Peters, however, invited an unauthorized non-employee into the room during the process, the Associated Press reported. She misled Griswold about his employment status, CBS Denver said.
While the unauthorized man was there, he allegedly illegally captured footage of the machines being updated.
On August 2, this footage was posted to Watkin’s Telegram channel. The former 8chan owner and administrator has fervently promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory, and some people believe that him and his father could be the infamous ‘Q.’
According to Griswold’s team, the footage included an image that accidentally linked the leak to Mesa County.
Griswold issued an order last week authorizing her staff to travel to Mesa County to inspect the election system, but when they arrived, Peters was nowhere to be seen.
While speaking at the event, the Colorado Newsline reported that Peters accused Griswold’s office of “raiding” her county’s office.
At the South Dakota symposium, Vice said that Watkins showed the audience images that appear to have been taken from the Mesa County machines on May 23 and May 26.
Griswold’s office is investigating the security breach, Colorado Newsline reported. An investigator with 21st Judicial District Attorney Dan Rubinstein’s office is also looking into related potential criminal conduct, according to the local paper.
Dominion and Smartmatic have launched a series of defamation lawsuits against individuals and groups who spread election fraud conspiracy theories related to their voting machines during the 2020 presidential election.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, people turned to alternative ways to vote in the election, and voter fraud conspiracy theories quickly sprung up.
One posited that Dominion and Smartmatic developed technology that “flipped” votes from Donald Trump to Joe Biden through a method developed with the regime of the late Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez.
Its customer support number received a voicemail message saying “we’re bringing back the firing squad,” it wrote in the suit in January. The need for heightened personal security cost Dominion $565,000, according to the lawsuit, bringing its total costs attributed to the vote fraud claims to almost $1.2 million.
Dominion’s lawsuit alleges that Powell’s claims caused the company business losses after she baselessly accused the company of fraud, election rigging, and bribery.
“Powell’s statements were calculated to — and did in fact — provoke outrage and cause Dominion enormous harm,” Tom Clare, the attorney representing Dominion, wrote in the lawsuit.
The 124-page defamation lawsuit also outlines how Powell raised money from her media tour peddling her conspiracy theory through a corporate vehicle called “Defending the Republic,” also named as a party in the lawsuit.
Powell responded by tweeting that the lawsuit “is baseless & filed to harass, intimidate, & to drain our resources as we seek the truth of #DominionVotingSystems‘ role in this fraudulent election.”
The company claimed that Powell and Giuliani used right-wing media outlets like Fox News to make their conspiracy theories go viral.
“These defendants are primary sources of much of the false information,” the company said. “Their unfounded accusations were repeated by other media outlets, journalists, bloggers and influencers the world over.”
In the lawsuit, Dominion accused Giuliani of creating “a viral disinformation campaign about Dominion,” referring to more than 50 of his statements.
Through hearings, television appearances, Twitter, and his own YouTube show, it said, Giuliani repeatedly accused Dominion of election fraud and misrepresented the company’s security measures while doing so.
He “cashed in by hosting a podcast where he exploited election falsehoods to market gold coins, supplements, cigars and protection from ‘cyberthieves,'” Dominion wrote in the lawsuit.
The 107-page document also cited numerous other people who said they believed Giuliani’s claims, which it argued demonstrated the scope of the damage.
“Rudy Giuliani actively propagated disinformation to purposefully mislead voters,” Dominion CEO John Poulos said in a statement. “Because Giuliani and others incessantly repeated the false claims about my company on a range of media platforms, some of our own family and friends are among the Americans who were duped.”
In a statement, Giuliani said he welcomed the lawsuit and suggested he had not previously done a thorough investigation of Dominion’s practices.
Dominion’s lawsuit accused Lindell of repeatedly making false allegations while knowing there was no credible evidence to support his claims. As well as rallies, interviews, and a two-hour movie, Lindell used his social-media profiles to spread his baseless claims of voter fraud.
“I looked at it as a great day for America when they sued me,” Lindell added. “I can put the evidence for the whole world to see, and it’ll be public record, and the media will quit trying to suppress it.”
On March 26, Dominion also filed a lawsuit against Fox News. The $1.6 billion suit – its biggest yet – claimed that the network gave prominence to the election-fraud claims as a tactic to revive viewership as ratings dropped after President Donald Trump’s loss.
The voting-technology company said that Fox News “sold a false story of election fraud in order to serve its own commercial purposes, severely injuring Dominion in the process.”
In a statement, Fox News said: “Fox News Media is proud of our 2020 election coverage, which stands in the highest tradition of American journalism, and will vigorously defend against this baseless lawsuit in court.”
While several of its news shows reported that there was no evidence of Dominion’s systems changing votes, Fox News, in particular its opinion hosts, “questioned the results of the election or pushed conspiracy theories about it at least 774 times” in the two weeks after the network called the race, according to Media Matters.
Jeanine Pirro, Maria Bartiromo, and Lou Dobbs by Smartmatic
Newsmax was slow to acknowledge the reality of Biden’s victory in the November 2020 election. Dominion accused Newsmax of promoting falsehoods about the company in order to compete with Fox News, which had correctly recognized Biden’s victory in November.
“Newsmax chose to prioritize its profits over the truth,” the lawsuit said. “For Ruddy and Newsmax, the facts did not matter. What mattered was feeding the audience what it wanted — even if it was spreading false information. And the race to the bottom began in earnest, dragging Dominion down with it.”
After the election, the network also hosted Powell and Giuliani. By allowing them to spout their false theories unchallenged on Newsmax’s programs, this amounted to defamation, Dominion said.
Newsmax representative Brian Peterson told Insider that the media organization was simply reporting on what notable figures said.
“While Newsmax has not reviewed the Dominion filing, in its coverage of the 2020 Presidential elections, Newsmax simply reported on allegations made by well-known public figures, including the President, his advisors and members of Congress — Dominion’s action today is a clear attempt to squelch such reporting and undermine a free press,” Peterson said.
The lawsuit accuses Byrne, a staunch Trump ally, of waging “a defamatory disinformation campaign against Dominion” in collaboration with Powell, Giuliani, Lindell, and others. This includes pushing election conspiracy theories in television appearances, a blog series, a book, and a film, Dominion said.
“Byrne continues to stick to his manufactured, inherently improbable, profitable, and demonstrable lies,” the lawsuit said.
Dominion is ‘still exploring’ whether to sue Trump over election lies
Lindell attempted to have thisdefamationlawsuit against him dismissed during a hearing in June. But US District Judge Carl J. Nichols on August 11 ruled that the three defamation lawsuits against Lindell and Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, which are seeking more than a billion dollars in damages from each party, are slated to proceed in full.
Nichols noted in his judgment that the First Amendment offers “no blanket immunity” to Lindell in the Dominion lawsuit. The company alleges it was defamed by Lindell’s false claims that it rigged the election against Trump.
The judgment comes one day after Dominion filed lawsuits accusing right-wing media networks One America News and Newsmax of pushing false theories about the election.
After news that his attempt to have the lawsuit dismissed came out at around 6 p.m. on August 11, Lindell was seen on video getting off his seat and rushing off-stage abruptly, disappearing behind a dark curtain.
At press time, Lindell had not returned to the stage, and the live stream of the cyber symposium was replaced by a video reel showing news articles touting voter fraud claims next to an image of Lindell hugging a pillow.
Lindell told attendees on August 11 that he intended to stay on stage for three days straight.
“We’re not going on a break,” Lindell said. “You guys can go eat. That’s fine, but I ain’t eating! I’m staying up here for 72 hours.”