Smartmatic says Fox News shouldn’t have journalism protections in defamation lawsuit over election conspiracy theories

fox news channel
Fox News is the subject of several defamation lawsuits over election conspiracy theories.

  • Smartmatic argued in a filing Monday that Fox News shouldn’t receive legal journalism protections.
  • Its defamation lawsuit alleges Fox News pushed damaging conspiracy theories about the company.
  • Fox News has moved to dismiss the lawsuit.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Smartmatic Voting Systems argued in a court filing Monday that Fox News should not have legal protections normally given to journalists, arguing that its defamation lawsuit should move forward.

Smartmatic’s 137-page filing rejects Fox News’ defense that it was simply reporting on the dispute between the election technology company and conspiracy theorists who falsely said it played a role in rigging the 2020 presidential election against Donald Trump.

It argues that Fox News anchors shouldn’t be protected by what’s called “neutral reporting privilege,” a legal doctrine that sometimes protects news organizations that publish accusations against public figures from libel lawsuits.

“The First Amendment does not give anyone, even news organizations, a free pass to defame a private company,” Smartmatic attorney J. Erik Connolly said in a statement.

The filing is part of a $2.7 billion lawsuit Smartmatic filed in February in New York state court, alleging that Fox News waged a defamatory disinformation campaign when it pushed conspiracy theories about the ecompany. The media organization hosted Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, two conspiracy theorist attorneys who falsely argued the election was rigged and who are also defendants in the lawsuit. Several Fox News hosts also advanced the conspiracy theories on their own, Smartmatic said, and are individually named as defendants.

Fox News asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit later in February, arguing it simply offered “newsworthy information” to the public. The media organization also backtracked and aired interviews with experts affirming the legitimacy of the election following legal threats in December.

In a statement Tuesday, Fox News said Smartmatic’s new motion shows its lawsuit is “meritless.”

“The filing only confirms our view that the suit is meritless and FOX News covered the election in the highest tradition of the First Amendment,” a spokesperson said.

Fox News is also the subject of a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit from Dominion, a rival election technology company that conspiracy theorists said was secretly in cahoots with Smartmatic. Fox News has called that lawsuit meritless as well.

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Sydney Powell’s defense in the $1.3 billion Dominion lawsuit may be used against her in Michigan sanctions effort

Sidney Powell
Sidney Powell. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

  • Michigan’s attorney general said Powell made “stunning admissions” in the Dominion lawsuit.
  • The state said those admissions should be further reason to sanction Powell.
  • Powell and others are facing defamation lawsuits for claims made about 2020 election fraud.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Sidney Powell‘s defense in the $1.3 billion Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit is being used against her in a court case over unsubstantiated claims of election fraud in the 2020 presidential race.

Powell, an attorney who became widely known after filing multiple lawsuits and floating conspiracy theories about 2020 election fraud, claimed “no reasonable person would conclude that the statements were truly statements of fact” in her defense against a defamation lawsuit brought by election-technology company Dominion.

Now, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says Powell’s statement is another reason a federal court should approve sanctions against her, Forbes first reported, citing a legal filing.

Powell “made a series of stunning admissions,” in the Dominion lawsuit that addressed statements about election fraud, “many of which also were made to this Court,” the filing said.

Nessel asked a federal court in January to sanction Powell and three other attorneys over a lawsuit in Michigan that requested the state overturn its elections results, claiming fraud in President Joe Biden’s defeat of former President Donald Trump.

In her filing to the federal court this week, Nessel said Powell’s defense in the Dominion lawsuit proves that the attorney’s behavior “warrants sanctions because it unreasonably multiplied the proceedings in this case and abused the judicial process.”

Powell did not respond to Insider’s requests for comment.

Read more: Trump-ally media outlet OAN quietly deleted articles about Dominion despite publicly doubling down on election conspiracy theories

Powell, who was hired and then fired by former President Trump, claimed Dominion and Smartmatic, which is also suing her, used their voting machines to falsify votes in the 2020 presidential election.

Her law firm filed lawsuits regarding 2020 election fraud in Michigan, Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin, all of which lost in court.

Powell isn’t the only one facing legal repercussions for claims made about the 2020 election. Former President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Fox News, and MyPillow Chief Executive Officer Mike Lindell are also facing defamation lawsuits from the election-technology companies.

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Giuliani’s baseless voter-fraud conspiracy theories helped bring about Georgia’s restrictive voting law, lieutenant governor says

Rudy Giuliani
Rudy Giuliani at Four Seasons Total Landscaping in Philadelphia as news networks called the 2020 election for Joe Biden on November 7.

  • A top Georgia official said Rudy Giuliani’s voter-fraud claims helped prompt the new voting law.
  • Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan noted that Giuliani argued extensively that there was mass voter fraud.
  • Duncan, who opposes the new law, suggested that this helped cement enthusiasm for stricter rules.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A top Republican official in Georgia told CNN that Rudy Giuliani’s conspiracy theories about mass voter fraud helped create the momentum for the state’s new voter restrictions.

“This is really the fallout from the 10 weeks of misinformation that flew in from former President Donald Trump,” Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan said in an interview Wednesday of new voting restrictions in Georgia.

“I went back over the weekend to really look at where this really started to gain momentum in the legislature, and it was when Rudy Giuliani showed up in a couple of committee rooms and spent hours spreading misinformation and sowing doubt across, you know, hours of testimony.”

Duncan previously criticized the legislation, saying in a late-March interview, “I don’t think it was the best move forward.”

The bill was signed into law last month by Gov. Brian Kemp, who says its guards against fraud are less restrictive than voting laws in some states run by Democrats.

Duncan’s remarks highlight the enduring influence of the debunked claim by former President Donald Trump and his allies that the 2020 election was stolen from him as a result of mass voter fraud.

The claim and other related ones were rejected in a series of court challenges by the Trump campaign and have twice been dismissed by the Supreme Court.

Giuliani played a key role in pushing the election-fraud claims and visited Georgia in December as part of a pressure campaign to get state officials to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the state.

Kemp was subjected to social-media attacks by Trump and his allies when he refused to attempt to follow Trump’s orders to try to cancel Biden’s victory.

Giuliani is facing a $1.3 billion lawsuit from the voting-machine company Dominion Voting Systems, which he baselessly claimed switched thousands of votes in Georgia as part of a plot to ensure Biden’s victory.

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From Rudy Giuliani to Fox News, here’s everyone Dominion and Smartmatic are suing over election conspiracy theories so far

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, Sidney Powell, and Rudy Giuliani are being sued by Dominion.

  • Conspiracy theorists claim Dominion and Smartmatic “flipped” votes from Donald Trump to Joe Biden.
  • The election technology companies are now suing the people who spread those claims.
  • Here’s who’s being sued so far.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

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.

Dominion filed a $1.6 billion defamation suit against Fox News on Friday, and more could be on their way. Dominion has sent cease-and-desist notices and warnings to preserve documents to more than 150 people, and its CEO previously told CNBC that the company was “not ruling anyone out.”

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.

The theory has been thoroughly debunked. That didn’t stop pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell and Trump’s former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani from pushing elements of the theory while filing a series of failed lawsuits seeking to overturn the results of the election. Lindell has also spread misinformation about the machines, saying Dominion “built them to cheat.”

As well as making the brand “radioactive” and putting its multiyear contracts in jeopardy, according to its attorney Tom Clare, the allegations about Dominion also put its employees in danger, the company wrote in a lawsuit.

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.

Here’s a list of everyone is being sued so far.

Sidney Powell by Dominion and Smartmatic

Sidney Powell
Attorney Sidney Powell at a Trump Campaign press conference.

Dominion was the first to snap.

On January 8, it filed a defamation suit against pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell, seeking $1.3 billion in damages.

Powell was one of the faces of the Trump campaign’s legal team in November, but Trump kicked her off the team after she floated her conspiracy theory at a press conference.

Despite being purged from Trump’s “Elite Strike Force” legal team Powell used her false theories as the premise of four federal lawsuits seeking to overturn the election result. All of them failed, and some have resulted in motions for her to be disbarred.

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.”

Smartmatic filed a defamation lawsuit against Powell a month later, suing her at the same time it sued Rudy Giuliani, a fellow conspiracy theorist, and Fox News.

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.”

Rudy Giuliani by Dominion and Smartmatic

Rudy Giuliani
Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani at a Trump Campaign press conference with Sidney Powell.

On January 26, Dominion filed a defamation suit against Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s now-former personal lawyer, again seeking $1.3 billion in damages.

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.”

Smartmatic also included Giuliani as a defendant in its lawsuit filed in February.

The company said Giuliani used the conspiracy theories to enrich himself.

“He reportedly would seek thousands of dollars ($20,000/day) in fees from President Trump to spread the story and file frivolous lawsuits,” the company wrote in its lawsuit.

“He would also use the attention brought to him as one of the primary storytellers to sell various products – from coins to supplements to title fraud protection.”

In a statement, Giuliani said he welcomed the lawsuit and suggested he had not previously done a thorough investigation of Dominion’s practices.

Mike Lindell by Dominion

mike lindell trump
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell

On February 22, Dominion filed a defamation suit against MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, also seeking $1.3 billion in damages.

Lindell is a staunch ally of former president Donald Trump and a major GOP donor, who has repeatedly supported Trump’s claims challenging the integrity of the election.

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.

In the lawsuit, Dominion claimed Lindell used the claims as a way to ramp up his pillow sales, advertising on far-right media outlets that parroted his claims and sponsoring a bus tour that sought to overturn the election results. Lindell told Insider that retailer boycotts of MyPillow following the insurrection have cost him tens of millions of dollars in business.

He “knowingly lied about Dominion to sell more pillows to people who continued tuning in to hear what they wanted to hear about the election,” Dominion wrote.

Lindell told Insider Dominion had “zero, zero, zero” chance of winning. The lawsuits were part of cancel culture’s attempts at silencing voices, he said.

“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.”

Fox News by Smartmatic and Dominion

Donald Trump Fox News
A close-up of the Fox News Channel website with a picture of President Donald Trump displayed on a smartphone.

On February 4, Smartmatic filed a $2.7 billion lawsuit against Fox News, accusing it of waging disinformation campaigns about the company’s role in the 2020 election.

“In November and December 2020, Fox News broadcast multiple reports stating and implying that Smartmatic had fixed and rigged the 2020 election,” the company said.

“They repeated the false claims and accusations on air and in articles and social media postings that were together seen by millions in the US and even more around the world.”

Fox called the lawsuit “meritless” and asked a judge to dismiss the case.

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.”

Fox News representative told Insider in February that the network ran several “fact-check” segments “prior to any lawsuit chatter.”

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. They have filed to dismiss the lawsuit

Jeanine Pirro, Maria Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs
Fox News hosts Jeanine Pirro, Maria Bartiromo, and Lou Dobbs

Smartmatic’s 285-page lawsuit against Fox News also named the hosts Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo, and Jeanine Pirro as defendants.

Smartmatic said the hosts had offered Powell and Giuliani a platform and endorsed their falsehoods.

Bartiromo, Pirro, and Dobbs all filed separate motions to dismiss the lawsuit, Fox News said.

Fox News canceled Dobbs’ show days later and said he would no longer have a relationship with the network. It added that the move had been planned.

Dominion will ‘definitely’ file more lawsuits, its CEO said

More lawsuits could be on their way, with Dominion’s CEO telling CNBC that the company was “not ruling anyone out.”

Dominion has sent cease-and-desist notices and warnings to preserve documents to more than 150 peopleThe Washington Post reported. This includes the media outlets Newsmax and One America News.

 

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Rudy Giuliani will keep his honorary degree after the board of a New York college didn’t count enough votes to rescind

Rudy Giuliani
Former Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for President Donald Trump, speaks during a news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters, Thursday Nov. 19, 2020, in Washington.

  • Ex-Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani will be able to keep his honorary degree from St. John Fisher College.
  • The school’s board of trustees voted to rescind the degree but did not meet a majority requirement.
  • College alums urged the school to revoke the degree after Giuliani peddled baseless claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A New York college’s board of trustees did not have enough votes to rescind an honorary degree given to Rudy Giuliani, former President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer.

Giuliani, as a result, gets to keep his honorary degree from St. John Fisher College, bestowed upon him in 2015 for his service as mayor in New York during 9/11.

According to 13 WHAM, an ABC News affiliate, the school’s board of trustees voted on the decision Friday but did not have the two-thirds majority required to revoke the degree.

After the Capitol riot on January 6, St. John Fisher College was inundated with requests from former school government and class officers to rescind Giuliani’s degree, according to the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.

Giuliani pushed disinformation and conspiracy theories about the results of the 2020 election, including repeated unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud.

His language and actions “were antithetical to everything St. John Fisher College espouses, such that we believe his continued relationship with the College risks permanent damage to the College’s reputation, campus culture, and the prestige of future honorary degrees,” a letter from 15 alums read, according to the Democrat & Chronicle.

After the Capitol riot, at least one college revoked an honorary degree from Giuliani.

Middlebury College in Vermont rescinded his degree, given to him in 2005, because of his unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election.

St. John Fisher College, however, said “no further actions will be taken” on the topic of Giuliani’s honorary degree.

Two institutions – Lehigh University and Wagner College – in January announced the revocation of honorary degrees given to Trump in light of the riots at the Capitol.

The board of trustees “voted to rescind and revoke the honorary degree granted to Donald J. Trump in 1988,” a statement from the Lehigh University account on Twitter reads.

Lehigh faculty members have for years urged the university to rescind Trump’s degree, which he received upon speaking at its 1988 commencement ceremony. In 2018, nearly 300 Lehigh faculty members urged the board of trustees to rescind the degree. They argued that Trump’s statements and actions as president did not fall in line with the values of the school, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. The trustees did not budge.

The Wagner board of trustees also voted to rescind an honorary degree he had received from the institution in 2004, according to a statement posted online.

The riot, which began after Trump encouraged his supporters to protest the results of the election, has been characterized as an attempted coup. Rioters stormed the Capitol building as lawmakers were meeting inside to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Five people, including one police officer, died. Members of the Proud Boys, which is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, were reportedly present.

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Rudy Giuliani’s legal woes mount as a federal criminal investigation into his Ukraine dealings resumes, report says

Rudy Giuliani
Rudy Giuliani speaks during an appearance before the Michigan House Oversight Committee on December 2, 2020 in Lansing, Michigan.

  • A probe into Rudy Giuliani’s business and overseas dealings has resumed, according to AP.
  • The criminal investigation will look into the legality of his conversations with Ukrainian officials.
  • Giuliani is also facing lawsuits from Dominion and a Democratic lawmaker.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

A federal criminal investigation into Rudy Giuliani has resumed, according to the Associated Press.

The US Attorney’s office at the South District of New York has “returned to the question of bringing a criminal case against Giuliani,” the news outlet reported.

Investigators intend to look into former President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney’s business dealings and whether these defied lobbying laws, AP said.

There will be a particular focus on examining the legality surrounding Giuliani’s conversations with Ukrainian officials, Forbes reported.

According to two unnamed officials familiar with AP, whether Giuliani’s failure to register as a foreign agent is central to this probe.

A transcript surfaced last month of a 40-minute phone call between Giuliani and two Ukrainian officials in which he allegedly pressured them to investigate the Biden family, reported Time magazine.

This is reminiscent of the call which was central to Trump’s first impeachment inquiry, in which the former president spoke to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelnskiy about Hunter Biden, 

The investigation into Giuliani’s Ukraine dealings temporarily reached a halt last year after Justice Department officials attempted to block a search warrant of the former mayor’s digital records, The New York Times reported.

It has reportedly received a jumpstart because “the dust has settled now,” former federal prosecutor Kenneth F. McCallion told AP.

Giuliani said that he believes this investigation is “pure political persecution,” he told the news outlet. 

His lawyer, Robert J. Costello, told AP that he has “heard nothing” about the probe.

Giuliani is currently facing a number of legal challenges linked to his baseless claims of voter fraud during the presidential election. On Friday, Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell filed a federal lawsuit against Trump, Giuliani, and GOP Rep. Mo Brooks.

Dominion Voting Systems have also filed a lawsuit against Giuliani, accusing him of defamation.

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Trump sued for ‘incitement to riot’ and terrorism over Capitol attack by House Democrat who served as impeachment manager

capitol siege riot ladder
Rioters clash with police using big ladder trying to enter Capitol building through the front doors.

  • Rep. Eric Swalwell filed a lawsuit against Trump and his allies over the Capitol attack.
  • The suit accuses the defendants of incitement to riot, among other charges. 
  • Swalwell alleges that Trump and his allies caused severe emotional distress to Congress.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, a former House impeachment manager, on Friday filed a federal lawsuit against former President Donald Trump and a number of his close allies – Donald Trump Jr., Rudolph W. Giuliani, and GOP Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama – over the Capitol attack. 

The suit accuses Trump and his allies of “incitement to riot,” and alleges that they violated an anti-terrorism act in Washington, DC, among other charges.

“As a direct and foreseeable consequence of the Defendants’ false and incendiary allegations of fraud and theft, and in direct response to the Defendants’ express calls for violence at the rally, a violent mob attacked the US Capitol,” the suit stated. “Many participants in the attack have since revealed that they were acting on what they believed to be former president Trump’s orders in service of their country.”

“The horrific events of January 6 were a direct and foreseeable consequence of the Defendants’ unlawful actions. As such, the Defendants are responsible for the injury and destruction that followed,” the suit went on to say. “Trump directly incited the violence at the Capitol that followed and then watched approvingly as the building was overrun.”

Swalwell accuses the defendants of inflicting severe emotional distress on members of Congress, and states that they aided and abetted violent insurrectionists. The suit outlines how Trump and his allies stoked the riot with false claims about the election being “stolen.”

“The Defendants, in short, convinced the mob that something was occurring that – if actually true – might indeed justify violence to some, and then sent that mob to the Capitol with violence-laced calls for immediate action,” the suit said. 

eric swalwell trump impeachment

Swalwell’s suit is the second major lawsuit filed in a federal court by a House Democrat against Trump and people close to him in relation to the Capitol riot. Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi in February filed a suit that alleged Trump and Giuliani conspired with far-right groups to incite the Capitol insurrection.

Trump was impeached over the Capitol attack in mid-January, but was acquitted in the Senate last month. Swalwell was an impeachment manager in Trump’s second impeachment proceedings over the January 6 riot. After Trump was acquitted, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the former president could still be held accountable by the criminal justice system or face “civil litigation.” Swalwell’s suit cited these remarks from McConnell.

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The former president, Trump Jr., and Giuliani did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Insider.

But Trump spokesperson Jason Miller in response to the suit told the Washington Post, “Eric Swalwell is a low-life with no credibility.” 

Brooks denounced Swalwell and the lawsuit in a statement provided to Insider by his office.

“Socialist Eric Swalwell’s frivolous lawsuit is a meritless ploy by a man who betrayed his county by bedding a Communist Chinese spy while serving on the Intelligence Committee that hears America’s highest classified security secrets,” Brooks said. “I make no apologies whatsoever for fighting for accurate and honest elections. In sum, I wear Communist-sympathizer Swalwell’s scurrilous and malicious lawsuit like a badge of courage.”

“Under no circumstances will Swalwell, or any other Socialist, stop me from fighting for America,” Brooks added. 

Swalwell does not identify as a socialist, nor is he widely considered to be among the more left-leaning Democrats in Congress.  

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Rudy Giuliani, who helped lead Trump’s bogus election-fraud conspiracy theory, is being mocked after warning of the dangers of misinformation

Rudy Giuliani
Rudy Giuliani at the infamous Four Seasons Total Landscaping press conference in Philadelphia on November 7, 2020.

  • Rudy Giuliani warned of “the dire consequences of misinformation on social media.”
  • Giuliani has long promoted right-wing misinformation on social media.
  • Media figures and disinformation experts soon pointed out the contradiction.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, was pilloried on Wednesday after he warned in a podcast of the dangers of online misinformation. 

In a tweet Giuliani shared the latest in his podcast series “Rudy Giuliani’s Common Sense” which he wrote was devoted to “the dire consequences of misinformation on social media.”

“If continued unaddressed, it will eventually lead to Jefferson’s worst nightmare of a poorly informed citizenry, which he saw as the greatest danger to democracy,” wrote Giuliani.

Giuliani was an unusual carrier for that message, which media figures and disinformation experts were quick to point out.

He was for months been the face of Donald Trump’s campaign to overturn the result of the 2020 presidential election, and repeatedly pushed the so-called “Big Lie” that the election was stolen from Trump by Democrats, corrupt election officials and GOP traitors. 

As recently as two days ago Giuliani was banned from YouTube for continuing to push the claim. 

The election-fraud conspiracy theory helped inspire Trump supporters to attack the Capitol on January 6 in a bid to halt Joe Biden’s certification as the victor. Giuliani gave an incendiary speech to the supporters ahead of the riot. 

Dominion Voting Systems , in a lawsuit against Giuliani alleging that he spread disinformation about their voting machines, claim Giuliani exploited the election-fraud conspiracy theories to sell cigars, gold coins and supplements on his podcast. 

In his longstanding bid to smear Biden and his son, Hunter, ahead of the election last year, Giuliani pushed disinformation which US intelligence says was likely fed to him by Russian intelligence. 

Observers pointed out the irony of Giuliani’s unexpected concern about the dangers of online misinformation. 

“Noted disinformation expert Rudy Giuliani has an important message about poorly informed citizenry…,” tweeted John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at CitizenLab. 

Replying to the Giuliani tweet, disinformation expert Renee DiResta linked to a study where she debunked and analysed the spread of conspiracy theories promoted by Giuliani, among others. 

“Hearing Rudy Giuliani dispute- even laugh at- Pizzagate as an example of an absurd online conspiracy theory on his show, which was about misinformation tonight, was…. a moment,” tweeted Justin Hendrix, an expert on technology and democracy. 

David Begnaud, a national correspondent for CBS News, tweeted of Giuliani’s podcast edition:“From a man who, in the eyes of many, ruined his reputation by spreading misinformation…”

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Sacha Baron Cohen mocked Rudy Giuliani in his Golden Globes victory speech, calling him a ‘comedy genius’ for putting his hand down his pants on camera

sacha baron cohen golden globes
The actor Sacha Baron Cohen and his wife, Isla Fisher.

  • Sacha Baron Cohen called out Rudy Giuliani in his Golden Globes acceptance speech on Sunday.
  • Giuliani was filmed unzipping his pants in Baron Cohen’s 2020 movie “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.”
  • Baron Cohen called Giuliani a “comedy genius,” adding: “Who could get more laughs out of one unzipping?”
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Sacha Baron Cohen ridiculed Rudy Giuliani as a “comedy genius” on Sunday night, highlighting numerous political gaffes as comic masterpieces during his Golden Globes acceptance speech. 

Baron Cohen on Sunday won Best Comedy Motion Picture for his 2020 film “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” in which he pranked the lawyer and former New York City mayor.

In the movie, Giuliani was duped by the actress Maria Bakalova, who played the daughter of fictional Kazakh TV presenter Borat and invited the lawyer to her hotel room during a fake interview.

One point in the fake interview, Giuliani was filmed lying on his back on the hotel bed and putting his hand down his trousers. Giuliani has maintained that he was tucking in his shirt.

borat giuliani tucking in shirt
The scene, filmed through a two-way mirror, shows Rudy Giuliani laying on a bed with “Borat” star Maria Bakalova.

At the Golden Globes, Baron Cohen wasted no time in milking the scene for further laughs. Seeming like he was crediting Bakalova, he gave a hat tip to his “co-star,” whom he described as “a fresh new talent who came from nowhere, and turned out to be a comedy genius.”

“I’m talking, of course, about Rudy Giuliani,” he continued. “I mean, who could get more laughs out of one unzipping? Incredible.” (It is not clear from the footage whether Giuliani actually unzipped his trousers.)

Baron Cohen went on to praise Giuliani’s later “comedy films,” such as his press conference at the Four Seasons Total Landscaping parking lot after the 2020 election, his hair dye trickling down his face, and his farting at an election hearing. Baron Cohen called the moments “Hair Dye Another Day” and “A Very Public Fart.”

Turning more serious, Baron Cohen then credited Bakalova’s performance as a “revelation, sensation” before thanking other members of the production team. 

Baron Cohen also made a cutting jab at the the expense of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), describing the group as “all-white” in a throwaway line that added to the numerous uncomfortable moments of the night. 

The HFPA, which has 87 members, has been heavily criticized for its lack of diverse racial representation. According to the former president of the Golden Globes, the board has not had any Black members for nearly two decades

rudy giuliani sweat
Giuliani with hair dye trickling down his face in November 2020.

The British actress Rosamund Pike also called out Bakalova and Giuliani in her Golden Globes acceptance speech, for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical for her role in “I Care A Lot.”

“In my movie, I had to swim up from a sinking car,” Pike said. “I think I still would rather do that than be in a room with Rudy Giuliani. So, Maria, I salute your brilliance and your bravery.”

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From Rudy Giuliani to Sidney Powell, here’s everyone Dominion and Smartmatic is suing over election conspiracy theories so far

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, Sidney Powell, and Rudy Giuliani are being sued by Dominion.

  • Conspiracy theorists claim Dominion and Smartmatic “flipped” votes from Donald Trump to Joe Biden.
  • The election technology companies are now suing the people who spread those claims.
  • Here’s who’s being sued so far.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

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.

More could be on their way, with Dominion’s CEO telling CNBC that its most recent lawsuit, against MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, is “definitely” not its last.

As a result 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.

The theory has been thoroughly debunked. That didn’t stop pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell and Trump’s former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani from pushing elements of the theory while filing a series of failed lawsuits seeking to overturn the results of the election. Lindell has also spread misinformation about the machines, saying Dominion “built them to cheat.”

As well as making the brand “radioactive” and putting its multiyear contracts in jeopardy, according to its attorney Tom Clare, the allegations about Dominion also put its employees in danger, the company wrote in a lawsuit.

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.

Here’s a list of everyone is being sued so far.

Sidney Powell by Dominion and Smartmatic

Sidney Powell
Attorney Sidney Powell at a Trump Campaign press conference.

On January 8, Dominion filed a defamation suit against pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell, seeking $1.3 billion in damages.

Powell was one of the faces of the Trump campaign’s legal team in November, but Trump kicked her off the team after she floated her conspiracy theory at a press conference.

Despite being purged from Trump’s “Elite Strike Force” legal team Powell used her false theories as the premise of four federal lawsuits seeking to overturn the election result. All of them failed, and some have resulted in motions for her to be disbarred.

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.”

Smartmatic filed a defamation lawsuit against Powell a month later, suing her at the same time it sued Rudy Giuliani, a fellow conspiracy theorist, and Fox News.

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.”

Rudy Giuliani by Dominion and Smartmatic

Rudy Giuliani
Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani at a Trump Campaign press conference with Sidney Powell.

On January 26, Dominion filed a defamation suit against Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s now-former personal lawyer, again seeking $1.3 billion in damages.

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.”

Smartmatic also included Giuliani as a defendant in its lawsuit filed in February.

The company said Giuliani used the conspiracy theories to enrich himself.

“He reportedly would seek thousands of dollars ($20,000/day) in fees from President Trump to spread the story and file frivolous lawsuits,” the company wrote in its lawsuit. “He would also use the attention brought to him as one of the primary storytellers to sell various products – from coins to supplements to title fraud protection.”

In a statement following the Dominion lawsuit, Giuliani said he welcomed it and suggested he had not previously done a thorough investigation of Dominion’s practices.

Mike Lindell by Dominion

mike lindell trump
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell

On February 22, Dominion filed a defamation suit against MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, also seeking $1.3 billion in damages.

Lindell is a staunch ally of former president Donald Trump and a major GOP donor, who has repeatedly supported Trump’s claims challenging the integrity of the election.

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.

In the lawsuit, Dominion claimed Lindell used the claims as a way to ramp up his pillow sales, advertising on far-right media outlets that parroted his claims and sponsoring a bus tour that sought to overturn the election results. Lindell told Insider that retailer boycotts of MyPillow following the insurrection have cost him tens of millions of dollars in business.

He “knowingly lied about Dominion to sell more pillows to people who continued tuning in to hear what they wanted to hear about the election,” Dominion wrote.

Lindell told Insider Dominion had “zero, zero, zero” chance of winning. The lawsuits were part of cancel culture’s attempts at silencing voices, he said.

“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.”

Fox News by Smartmatic

Donald Trump Fox News
A close-up of the Fox News Channel website with a picture of President Donald Trump displayed on a smartphone.

On February 4, Smartmatic filed a $2.7 billion lawsuit against Fox News, accusing it of waging disinformation campaigns about the company’s role in the 2020 election.

“In November and December 2020, Fox News broadcast multiple reports stating and implying that Smartmatic had fixed and rigged the 2020 election,” the company said.

“They repeated the false claims and accusations on air and in articles and social media postings that were together seen by millions in the US and even more around the world.”

Fox called the lawsuit “meritless” and asked a judge to dismiss the case.

“Fox News Media is committed to providing the full context of every story with in-depth reporting and clear opinion,” the company said. “We are proud of our 2020 election coverage and will vigorously defend this meritless lawsuit in court.”

Asked whether Dominion would also sue Fox News, Poulos told CNBC the company was “not ruling anyone out.”

Fox News representative told Insider earlier in February that the network ran several “fact-check” segments “prior to any lawsuit chatter.” 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. They have filed to dismiss the lawsuit

Jeanine Pirro, Maria Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs
Fox News hosts Jeanine Pirro, Maria Bartiromo, and Lou Dobbs

Smartmatic’s 285-page lawsuit against Fox News also named the hosts Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo, and Jeanine Pirro as defendants.

Smartmatic said the hosts had offered Powell and Giuliani a platform and endorsed their falsehoods.

Bartiromo, Pirro, and Dobbs all filed separate motions to dismiss the lawsuit, Fox News said.

Dominion will ‘definitely’ file more lawsuits, its CEO said

Dominion CEO John Poulos told CNBC the company’s filing against Lindell was “definitely not the last lawsuit.”

Dominion has sent cease-and-desist notices and warnings to preserve documents to more than 150 peopleThe Washington Post reported. This includes the media outlets Fox News, Newsmax, and One America News.

But Americans could be “forgiven for believing” the claims because they were touted as facts, Poulos told CNBC.

 

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