Newsmax settles a defamation lawsuit from a Dominion executive at the center of election conspiracy theories and issues an apology

Newsmax Media CEO Christopher Ruddy attends a dinner with the US president and business leaders in Bedminster, New Jersey, on August 7, 2018.
Newsmax Media CEO Christopher Ruddy attends a dinner with Donald Trump and business leaders.

  • Dominion executive Eric Coomer reached a settlement with Newsmax, which he sued for defamation.
  • Newsmax pushed false theories Coomer was in an “Antifa conference call” to rig the election.
  • Coomer is still suing others, and his legal efforts are separate from Dominion’s own lawsuits.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

An executive at Dominion Voting Systems moved to dismiss Newsmax as a defendant in a defamation lawsuit Friday after reaching a settlement with the right-wing media organization.

It’s the first such settlement from a news organization in a defamation lawsuit filed over 2020 election conspiracy theories.

The lawsuit, filed by Dominion’s head of product strategy and security Eric Coomer, is among several filed over false claims that election technology companies like Dominion rigged the election against former president Donald Trump and in favor of now-President Joe Biden.

Coomer sued Newsmax in December in state court in Colorado over false claims that he took part in an “Antifa conference call” to rig the 2020 presidential election against Donald Trump. He revised his lawsuit in February to bolster his claims against Newsmax, as Insider previously reported.

On Friday, Newsmax issued a retraction and apology on its website saying it found “no evidence” that earlier claims about Coomer and the 2020 election were true.

“There are several facts that our viewers should be aware of. Newsmax has found no evidence that Dr. Coomer interfered with Dominion voting machines or voting software in any way, nor that Dr. Coomer ever claimed to have done so,” the statement reads. “Nor has Newsmax found any evidence that Dr. Coomer ever participated in any conversation with members of ‘Antifa,’ nor that he was directly involved with any partisan political organization.”

The terms of the settlement were not disclosed in the court filings reviewed by Insider. A representative for Coomer declined to comment on the settlement terms. A representative for Newsmax declined to comment and directed Insider to its apology statement.

Coomer went into hiding after receiving death threats over the conspiracies

Coomer first became the subject of conspiracy theories after Joe Oltmann, a right-wing political operative, claimed without evidence that he was a member of “Antifa” – a loosely linked group of left-wing activists who oppose fascist movements – and worked to rig the 2020 election. Numerous lawsuits, recounts, and investigations have turned up no widespread evidence of irregularities in the 2020 election.

Oltmann’s baseless claims spread like wildfire in right-wing media circles, and Coomer went into hiding after receiving numerous death threats. Coomer sued more than a dozen right-wing media figures he claims were responsible for pushing the conspiracy theories. He alleged defamation, intentionally inflicted emotional distress, and civil conspiracy over the claims.

dominion ceo john poulos
President and CEO of Election Systems & Software Tom Burt, President and CEO of Dominion Voting Systems John Poulos, President and CEO of Hart InterCivic Julie Mathis testify during a hearing on Capitol Hill.

Newsmax had steadfastly claimed it did nothing wrong as recently as February, when a spokesperson told Insider that Coomer’s lawsuit was politically motivated. The media organization is owned and run by Christopher Ruddy, a close friend of Trump’s.

In a statement, Cain and Skarnulis PLLC, the law firm representing Coomer, said he continues to receive death threats.

“Six months after the election, Dr. Coomer continues to receive death threats and harassment from those who believe the false conspiracy theories,” the statement reads.

All of the other people and organizations Coomer has sued – including Oltmann, Trump’s campaign, Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani, One America News Network, and others – remain defendants in the lawsuit.

“With respect to the remaining defendants, Dr. Coomer is seeking damages to his reputation and livelihood and, once certified by the court, punitive damages,” the statement from Coomer’s law firm reads.

Coomer’s lawsuit is distinct from the legal efforts of Dominion itself, which is represented by the defamation firm Clare Locke LLP. Dominion has sued Fox News, Powell, Giuliani, and MyPillow mogul Mike Lindell. Smartmatic, another election technology caught up in election conspiracy theories, has filed its own defamation lawsuits against right-wing media figures over the falsehoods.

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Fox News argues its hosts didn’t need to fact-check election conspiracy theories from Trump’s lawyers in response to Smartmatic defamation suit

Lou Dobbs Fox Business News
Former Fox News host Lou Dobbs.

  • Fox News is trying to dismiss a $2.7 billion lawsuit from Smartmatic over election conspiracies.
  • It argues its hosts didn’t have a legal responsibility to fact-check falsehoods from Trump’s lawyers.
  • Election conspiracy theories have led to a tangle of legal consequences for right-wing media.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Attorneys representing Fox News once again asked a New York court to dismiss a defamation lawsuit from Smartmatic over conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, arguing its hosts didn’t have a responsibility to fact-check the attorneys hired by Donald Trump.

“Smartmatic asks this Court to become the first in history to hold the press liable for reporting allegations made by a sitting President and his lawyers,” the attorneys wrote in a brief filed to court Monday, later adding: “Smartmatic identifies no case in the history of our nation in which the press was held liable for reporting allegations made by or on behalf of a sitting President.”

The lawsuit, filed in February, asks for $2.7 billion in damages and accuses Fox News of waging a disinformation campaign that irreparably damaged Smartmatic’s reputation. It also targets three individual hosts – Maria Bartiromo, Jeanine Pirro, and Lou Dobbs – who hosted Trump’s attorneys, Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell.

Powell and Giuliani had promoted conspiracy theories baselessly claiming that Smartmatic was secretly in cahoots with Dominion Voting Systems, a rival election technology company, in a complicated scheme to manipulate the 2020 presidential election that involved now-dead Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

Dozens of lawsuits, audits, investigations, and recounts have found no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election.

The false claims have led to a messy fallout. Trump fired Powell in late November, and Giuliani distanced himself from her even as he continued to advance conspiracy theories. Dominion sued Powell, Giuliani, Fox News, and other right-wing media figures that pushed those theories. And Fox News canceled Lou Dobb’s show shortly after Smartmatic filed its lawsuit.

jeanine pirro fox news
A screenshot of a Fox News broadcast featuring Jeanine Pirro, included as an exhibit in Fox News’ motion to dismiss the case.

Fox News first asked a judge to dismiss the case a few days after it was filed. On Monday, the network’s attorneys at Kirkland & Ellis LLP asked the judge to dismiss the claims against the individual hosts as well. The attorneys argue the legal standards for defamation don’t require the hosts to investigate whether Powell’s and Giuliani’s claims are actually true.

“Smartmatic simply identifies information ‘available to’ the public that it thinks the Fox hosts should have researched. But such ‘failure to investigate’ claims do not rise to the level of actual malice,” the attorneys wrote, citing other legal cases.

In earlier filings, Smartmatic said that the Fox News hosts’ failure to push back against false claims from Powell and Giuliani was itself defamatory, and said that the media organization shouldn’t receive legal protections normally given to journalists.

The new filings from Fox News spend dozens of pages going through individual claims from Bartiromo, Pirro, and Dobbs, arguing their comments were summaries of what Trump’s lawyers said, opinions protected by the First Amendment, or statements that didn’t directly mention Smartmatic and therefore didn’t need to be defended in the lawsuit.

As one example, Fox News’ attorneys cite a tweet included in Smartmatic’s lawsuit where Dobbs wrote, “Read all about Dominion and Smartmatic voting companies and you’ll soon understand how pervasive this Democrat electoral fraud is, and why there’s no way in the world the 2020 Presidential election was either free or fair.”

They wrote the statement was simply an opinion, and that statements on Twitter should not be taken seriously.

“New York courts have recognized that Twitter is not a natural setting in which a reasonable viewer would conclude that he is hearing actual facts about the plaintiff,” the lawyers argue.

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Mike Lindell’s company, MyPillow, is suing Dominion for $1.6 billion

mike lindell trump
Mike Lindell with then-President Donald Trump at the White House in March 2020.

MyPillow is suing Dominion Voting Systems for $1.6 billion, the pillow company’s CEO Mike Lindell announced Monday.

The suit appears to be a counterattack after Dominion filed a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against both the company and Lindell in February.

Lindell announced the new lawsuit in a livestream on his social-media site, Frank.

“This is all about the First Amendment rights and free speech,” Lindell said.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Minnesota, claims Dominion is trying to stifle free speech and engaging in “cancel culture” against those who question it.

Frank Mike Lindell
Lindell during a livestreamed launch of his social-media site, Frank, on Monday.

The suit distinguishes between MyPillow and Lindell, arguing that the CEO was speaking on his own behalf when alleging election fraud, as The Wall Street Journal first reported.

Lindell, a major GOP donor, is a staunch ally of former President Donald Trump and has repeatedly supported his claims challenging the integrity of the 2020 presidential election.

Lindell spread the conspiracy theory claiming that Dominion had developed technology to switch votes from Trump to Joe Biden. The theory has been thoroughly debunked.

Read more: The MyPillow guy says God helped him beat a crack addiction to build a multimillion-dollar empire. Now his religious devotion to Trump threatens to bring it all crashing down.

MyPillow said in the lawsuit that “in making these statements, Lindell spoke for himself, not MyPillow,” adding that “MyPillow has not engaged in discussion about the 2020 election.”

The lawsuit accuses Dominion of engaging in “lawfare” by aggressively using the legal system to attack its critics, who have falsely argued that the election technology company manipulated the 2020 election.

“Lawfare is the use of the legal system as part of wrongful scheme to attack another person and inflict extra-judicial harm upon them,” the lawsuit says. “Here, Dominion’s scheme is wrongful because Dominion’s purpose is to punish and deter important constitutionally-protected activity-free expression about a matter of public concern.”

Alan Dershowitz, a lawyer representing Lindell, discussed the lawsuit alongside Lindell during the livestream on Monday.

“I’ve been defending the First Amendment for 60 years, and I’m not going to stop now,” Dershowitz said.

Dominion’s counsel, Stephen Shackelford, a partner at Susman Godfrey LLP, told Insider, “This is a meritless retaliatory lawsuit, filed by MyPillow to try to distract from the harm it caused to Dominion.”

Dominion sued Lindell, Powell, Giuliani, and Fox News

On February 22, Dominion filed a defamation suit against Lindell after filing similar ones against the pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell, Trump’s former lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and Fox News.

Dominion’s lawsuit accused Lindell of repeatedly making false allegations while knowing there was no credible evidence to support his claims.

Lindell used his social-media profiles – as well as rallies, interviews, and a two-hour movie – to spread his baseless claims of voter fraud and accuse Dominion of building its machines “to cheat.”

Lindell previously told Insider that he thought Dominion had a “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.”

More than 20 retailers have severed ties with MyPillow

In its lawsuit, Dominion said Lindell had 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 result.

But Lindell’s lawsuit said Dominion had caused “grave harm” to MyPillow “as a result of Dominion’s suppression of speech and attacks on the Company,” according to The Journal.

More than 20 retailers have cut ties with MyPillow following the insurrection at the Capitol in January and Lindell’s insistence that the election result was fraudulent.

Bed Bath and Beyond, Sam’s Club, Kohl’s, and, most recently, Costco are among those to have stopped selling MyPillow’s products.

Some of the companies cited poor sales, but Lindell blamed it on “cancel culture” and described people saying they would boycott the brand as “bots and trolls.”

mike lindell white house
Mike Lindell in March 2020.

Lindell had told Insider that lost retailer revenue would cost the company about $65 million this year. He added during his livestream on Monday that MyPillow had 2,500 employees, many of whom had stock in the company.

But Lindell said that this wasn’t the main reason for his lawsuit.

“It’s not about the money,” he said. “It’s about our First Amendment rights.”

In January, Twitter barred Lindell for sharing voter-fraud conspiracy theories on the site. It suspended MyPillow’s account after Lindell used it to evade his personal ban and accused Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey of being “tied into the election fraud.”

Lindell said he has spent millions building his own social-media site. Frank has the tagline “the voice of free speech,” and he has said that he would use the site to share voter-fraud evidence.

Lindell said in mid-March that he hadn’t been back to his home in Minnesota for two months and had been moving among “undisclosed locations” because he feared for his safety.

This article has been updated.

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Mike Lindell says his company MyPillow is suing Dominion for $1.6 billion

mike lindell trump
Mike Lindell with then-President Donald Trump at the White House in March 2020.

  • Mike Lindell said his company MyPillow is suing Dominion for $1.6 billion.
  • Dominion had filed an earlier $1.3 billion lawsuit against Lindell over his voter-fraud conspiracy theories.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

MyPillow is suing Dominion Voting Systems for $1.6 billion, its CEO Mike Lindell said Monday.

The suit appears to be a counterattack after Dominion filed a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against both the company and its Lindell in February.

MyPillow has now sued Dominion for $1.6 billion, Lindell announced in a livestream on his social-media site Frank on Monday.

“This is all about the first amendment rights and free speech,” Lindell said.

Frank Mike Lindell
Mike Lindell during a livestreamed launch of his social-media site, Frank, on April 19, 2021.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the suit makes a distinction between MyPillow and Lindell, arguing that the CEO was speaking on his own behalf when alleging election fraud.

Insider was not immediately able to locate documents to verify details of the suit.

Lindell, a major GOP donor, is a staunch ally of former president Donald Trump and has repeatedly supported his claims challenging the integrity of the 2020 presidential election.

Lindell spread the conspiracy theory claiming that Dominion Voting Systems developed technology to switch votes from Trump to President Joe Biden. The theory has been thoroughly debunked.

Per the Journal, MyPillow in the lawsuit said “in making these statements, Lindell spoke for himself, not MyPillow,” the suit says. “MyPillow has not engaged in discussion about the 2020 election.”

Alan Dershowitz, Lindell’s lawyer for the case, discussed the lawsuit alongside Lindell during the livestream on Monday.

“I’ve been defending the first amendment for 60 years, and I’m not going to stop now,” Dershowitz said.

Dominion sued Lindell, Powell, Giuliani, and Fox News

On February 22, Dominion filed a defamation suit against MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell after filing similar ones against pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell, Trump’s former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and Fox News.

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, and that Dominion built its machines “to cheat.”

Lindell previously told Insider that 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.”

More than 20 retailers have severed ties with MyPillow

In its 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.

But Lindell’s lawsuit said that Dominion has caused “grave harm” to MyPillow “as a result of Dominion’s suppression of speech and attacks on the Company, per The Wall Street Journal.

But retailers have scrambled to cut ties with the brand following the insurrection and Lindell’s insistence that the election result was fraudulent.

More than 20 retailers, including Bed Bath and Beyond, Sam’s Club, Kohl’s, and most recently Costco, have stopped selling MyPillow’s products.

Some of the companies cited poor sales, but Lindell blamed it on “cancel culture” and said that people saying they would boycott the brand were “bots and trolls.”

Lindell told Insider that lost retailer revenue would cost the company around $65 million this year, but he added that radio and podcast infomercials could plug the gap.

Twitter also banned Mike Lindell for sharing voter-fraud conspiracy theories on the site. It then suspended MyPillow’s account, too, after Lindell used it to evade his personal ban and accused Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey of being “tied into the election fraud.”

Lindell said in mid-March that he hadn’t been back to his home in Minnesota for two months, instead moving between “undisclosed locations,” and no longer attends in-person events because he fears for his safety.

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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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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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Dominion files $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News over election conspiracy theories

sean hannity fox news
Fox News opinion host Sean Hannity

  • Dominion filed a defamation lawsuit Friday against Fox News over election conspiracy theories.
  • Fox hosts frequently invited Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani on their programs.
  • The two pushed false theories about Dominion flipping election results, with little pushback.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Dominion Voting Systems filed a defamation lawsuit against Fox News, seeking $1.6 billion in damages.

The suit alleged the right-wing media organization pushed a conspiracy theory that the election technology company helped rig the 2020 presidential election.

The lawsuit, reported by the Associated Press (AP), was filed on Friday morning.

Insider contacted Fox News representatives for comment on but did not immediately receive a response.

According to the AP, Dominion argues in the suit that Fox News gave prominence to the election-fraud claims as a tactic to revive viewership as ratings dropped after former President Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss.

The voting technology company said that the network “sold a false story of election fraud in order to serve its own commercial purposes, severely injuring Dominion in the process,” according to a copy of the filing seen by the AP.

That has led to the company – which previously did not have a major public profile – being vilified by millions of conservatives, the AP reported Dominion as saying. Employees of the company have faced harassment as a result, the company said.

The company’s lawyers said it had suffered “enormous and irreparable economic harm,” the AP reported.

For months, Dominion was at the center of a false conspiracy theory that it has secret ties with a rival technology company, Smartmatic, as well as the regime of now-dead Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, and developed technology that switched votes in the November election from then-President Donald Trump to now-President Joe Biden.

The false theory had been pushed by Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, two Trump-allied attorneys who sought and failed to overturn the results of the election in court.

Fox News hosted both lawyers numerous times as guests in the wake of the 2020 election, even as the network had already declared Biden the rightful winner and no evidence backed the attorneys’ claims. Other segments have debunked the same claims.

“This was a conscious, knowing business decision to endorse and repeat and broadcast these lies in order to keep its viewership,” the AP reported attorney Justin Nelson, of Susman Godfrey LLC, as saying. Dominion argued that other media outlets treated the bizarre claims very differently, the agency reported. .

The company said it had repeatedly tried to correct the record, but was ignored by Fox, the AP reported.

In January, Dominion filed defamation lawsuits against Powell and Giuliani individually. Those lawsuits included numerous examples of Giuliani and Powell making their claims in right-wing media, including Fox News, without pushback from hosts.

The suit against Fox News was Dominion’s first against a media outlet rather than an individual. The company said that may yet file lawsuits against specific media personalities, the AP reported.

Smartmatic, in February, filed a single lawsuit against Fox News, Powell, and Giuliani. It also named individual hosts Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo, Jeanine Pirro as defendants. Fox News canceled Dobbs’s show days later and said he would no longer have a relationship with the network, saying the move was previously planned.

Dominion had warned Fox News of an “imminent” lawsuit back in December. As Insider previously reported, the election technology company asked the media organization to preserve all documents related to Powell’s and Giuliani’s claims. It also sent letters to individual hosts Sean Hannity, Dobbs, and Bartiromo.

Read more: Dominion sends letters threatening defamation lawsuits to Sean Hannity, Maria Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs, and other pro-Trump media figures

Following similar letters from Smartmatic, Fox News aired a clip of an off-screen interviewer speaking with an elections expert who said there was no link between Smartmatic and Dominion and no evidence that Smartmatic participated in malfeasance.

A Fox News representative had also directed Insider to an interview with the host Eric Shawn and an engineering professor who studied Dominion’s technology and said it was “physically impossible” for it to switch votes, and a clip of the host Tucker Carlson expressing skepticism about Powell.

Dominion attorney Tom Clare told Insider at the time that the videos were insufficient.

“If you accuse somebody falsely on a prime-time slot or in the host’s own voice or in a 10-minute segment, then you need to have equal prominence and equal dignity into the retraction and apology,” Clare said.

Dominion made a similar point in the lawsuit filed Friday, saying that the pushback had not been effective, the AP reported.

“The buck stops with Fox on this,” attorney Stephen Shackelford said. “Fox chose to put this on all of its many platforms. They rebroadcast, republished it on social media and other places.”

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Sidney Powell’s defense lawyers say her conspiracy theories about Dominion were way too outlandish to be taken seriously

Sidney Powell
Sidney Powell, then an attorney for President Donald Trump, conducts a news conference at the Republican National Committee on lawsuits regarding the outcome of the 2020 presidential election in November.

  • Sidney Powell moved to dismiss the $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit Dominion filed against her.
  • Her lawyers say no reasonable person would take her claims about Dominion seriously.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Attorneys representing the attorney Sidney Powell filed a motion Monday to dismiss a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems, arguing her conspiracy theories about the election-technology company having ties to Venezuela and secretly rigging the 2020 presidential election should not have been taken literally.

“Even [assuming] that each of the statements alleged in the Complaint could be proved true or false, no reasonable person would conclude that the statements were truly statements of fact,” Powell’s attorneys wrote in the filing.

Dominion filed its lawsuit against Powell in January, alleging the lawyer defamed the company when she falsely claimed the company secretly switched votes from then-President Donald Trump to now-President Joe Biden.

Powell, an appeals court attorney who also represented Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, became a national figure in November following Trump’s election loss. She denied the reality he lost the election and falsely argued election-technology companies like Dominion and Smartmatic, which also sued Powell, falsified votes.

She was hired and then fired by Trump’s legal team before filing four lawsuits on her own seeking to overturn the election results. Her lawsuits, filled with spelling mistakes and bizarre claims, all failed in court.

Attorneys Lawrence J. Joseph, Howard Kleinhendler, and Jesse R. Binnall filed their response to Dominion’s lawsuit on behalf of Powell and Defending the Republic, a fundraising vehicle she set up while promoting her failed lawsuits.

They argued Powell’s statements should be taken in the context of the highly charged election, even though Trump had already lost the election at that point, and that any “reasonable person” would understand she wasn’t making factual claims, even though she had made her claims in lawsuits in addition to media appearances.

“Notably, one of the focal points of the Complaint is the press conference held by Sidney Powell and others on November 19, 2020 at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C.,” the attorneys wrote. “Obviously, any press conference originating from the Republican National Committee is political to its core.”

sidney powell
Jenna Ellis and Sidney Powell.

Powell’s attorneys say the fact that Dominion refers to Powell’s claims as outlandish indicates they should have never been taken seriously in the first place.

“Indeed, Plaintiffs themselves characterize the statements at issue as ‘wild accusations’ and ‘outlandish claims.’ They are repeatedly labelled ‘inherently improbable’ and even impossible,'” Powell’s attorneys wrote. “Such characterizations of the allegedly defamatory statements further support Defendants’ position that reasonable people would not accept such statements as fact but view them only as claims that await testing by the courts through the adversary process.”

Powell doubled down on her conspiracy theories more than a month after the election results were settled. After Dominion sent her document retention letters warning of a lawsuit, she called the company “fraud masters” on Twitter.

Powell has steadfastly refused to retract her claims about the company and has not responded to Insider’s repeated requests for comment.

The new filing does not address many of the points in Dominion’s original lawsuit, including that Powell submitted modified documentation about the company’s certificate to provide election technology in Georgia. Legal ethics experts told Insider Powell could face sanctions if she’s found to have modified court exhibits.

A litany of legal challenges await Powell after her failed election lawsuits. In addition to the defamation lawsuits from Dominion and Smartmatic, officials in Michigan are seeking to disbar her and the attorneys who worked with her.

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A Dominion exec forced into hiding due to death threats from Trump fans is beefing up his defamation lawsuit over election conspiracy theories

stop steal rally capitol january 5 washington dc
A “Stop the Steal” rally on January 5, where Joe Oltmann spoke.

  • Dominion Voting Systems executive Eric Coomer went into hiding following threats against his life.
  • Conspiracy theorists alleged he took part in an “Antifa conference call” to rig the 2020 election.
  • Coomer quietly updated a defamation lawsuit with new claims about Newsmax and Joe Oltmann.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Dominion executive who went into hiding in December quietly filed an updated defamation lawsuit against right-wing media figures who spread conspiracy theories about him, making new claims against the far-right media outlet Newsmax.

The lawsuit from Eric Coomer, the director of product strategy and security at Dominion Voting Systems, was first filed in December.

The amended lawsuit was filed in February but received scant attention. It adds more detail about the lengths the conservative operative Joe Oltmann went to push a baseless conspiracy theory about Coomer, as well as the degree to which Newsmax – owned by Trump’s friend Christopher Ruddy – played a role in spreading it.

The lawsuit accuses Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, conspiracy theorist attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, and right-wing media outlets like Newsmax, One America News, and The Gateway Pundit of boosting false claims about him. The defendants in the lawsuit, Coomer says, all pushed a false conspiracy theory from Oltmann, also a defendant in the lawsuit, that Coomer participated in an “Antifa conference call” for how to rig the 2020 presidential election.

While Oltmann initially said he has a recording of Coomer participating in the call, he’s never produced it and there’s no evidence it exists. Coomer says he has no involvement with Antifa – a loosely linked group of left-leaning activists who oppose fascist movements – and did not participate in any such call. There is also no evidence the results of the 2020 election were rigged, or that Dominion Voting Systems or members of Antifa made any effort to rig them.

But Oltmann’s claims spread like wildfire among far-right media circles, and Coomer went into hiding in December amid the threats against him and his family. Coomer filed his lawsuit shortly afterward “in an effort to unwind as much of the damage as possible done to me, my family, my life, and my livelihood as a result of the numerous false public statements that I was somehow responsible for ‘rigging’ the 2020 presidential election,” he said in a statement at the time.

Newsmax hosted Oltmann on its shows

Newsmax hosted Oltmann on Michelle Malkin’s show “Sovereign Nation” in November where she did not contradict his claims about Coomer and appeared to support them, according to the lawsuit.

A few days later, Newsmax hosted Powell on Howie Carr’s show where she parroted Oltmann’s claims. The right-wing network hosted numerous guests throughout the month of December who made the same false claims about Coomer, the lawsuit alleges.

“Newsmax repeatedly promoted these false allegations of voter fraud. Newsmax took no efforts to verify or corroborate the false allegations against Dr. Coomer and Dominion before publishing them and disregarded reliable sources establishing the contrary,” the lawsuit reads. “It had no credible evidence of any ‘Antifa conference call;’ that Dr. Coomer was part of this purported call; or that Dr. Coomer committed election fraud or subverted the results of the election.”

newsmax michelle malkin
Michelle Malkin hosted Joe Oltmann on her Newsmax show.

Dominion removed information about specific employees from the web in response to threats. Newsmax made that appear nefarious, the lawsuit says.

“Newsmax suggested nefarious intent when noting that Dominion had ‘scrubbed [Dr. Coomer] from their website.'” the lawsuit alleges. “In reality, Dr. Coomer had not been on Dominion’s website for years and Dominion employees’ identities were removed from third party marketing sites as an essential safety precaution given the numerous death threats already targeting them.”

In a statement to Insider, Newsmax described Coomer’s lawsuit as politically motivated.

“Newsmax exercised its First Amendment rights when it covered and reported on the electoral challenge claims made by President Trump, his attorneys and others, often relating to court documents,” a representative for Newsmax said. “Newsmax has consistently reported that Dominion was challenging claims made by the President and his lawyers, and we never embraced any claims about them as true or about Mr. Coomer.”

Oltmann doubled down at a ‘Stop the Steal’ rally ahead of the January 6 insurrection

While Newsmax was slow to acknowledge Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election, it stepped back in response to legal claims. After Smartmatic, another election-technology company targeted in conspiracy theories, threatened to sue Newsmax, the media organization released a video “clarifying” its reporting and affirming that the 2020 election was sound.

But Oltmann doubled down. On January 5, he spoke at a “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, DC ahead of the insurrection at the Capitol. In his remarks, he continued to push false conspiracy theories about Dominion and the election, and said it was “really fun” that Coomer was suing him, according to the lawsuit.

On January 26, Oltmann published a post on his Facebook page that appeared to threaten both Coomer and his attorneys, writing “Oh, and hi Eric Coomer. I’m never going to stop. You have no idea what information I have or how your loose lips and arrogance is your ultimate weakness.” He also said in a February 4 Facebook post that he would post a motion to dismiss Coomer’s lawsuit, but never did. Other posts on his Facebook page often reference elements of the QAnon conspiracy theory.

Capitol protest
Coomer’s lawsuit says that the January 6 insurrection demonstrates the real-life threat stemming from election conspiracy theories.

Oltmann told Insider he stands by his claims about Oltmann and Dominion and said he doesn’t care about the lawsuit, calling it “window dressing to distract the public from the truth.”

Coomer’s lawsuit cites Oltmann’s fringe beliefs, and the January 6 insurrection, as evidence that the claims should be taken seriously by the court.

“Defendants’ conduct has resulted in direct harm to Dr. Coomer through their encouragement of violence and threats. This harm is not hypothetical. A direct manifestation of the harm caused by Defendants’ conduct is the armed insurrection on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021,” the lawsuit says. “Lies about election fraud, including lies about Dr. Coomer, incited the insurrection. The open use of force by the militants further confirms the seriousness of the threats being made against Dr. Coomer.”

Coomer’s lawsuit is distinct from the ones filed by Dominion. As a company, Dominion has filed separate defamation lawsuits against Powell, Giuliani, and pillow mogul Mike Lindell. Smartmatic has filed its own defamation lawsuit as well.

“Dr. Coomer’s claims are personal, as his reputation has been damaged and his safety has been threatened,” a spokesperson for Coomer told Insider. “It was important to assert those claims in court now, to let those responsible know they will be held accountable.”

Coomer is raising money on Fundly to pay for his defamation lawsuit. Both Dominion and Smartmatic have indicated they plan to pursue additional legal action, and Dominion has sent Oltmann document retention letters threatening “imminent” litigation.

This article has been updated.

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