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Political Litigation

Trump Ally, Attorneys Ask Court to Dismiss Dominion’s Defamation Lawsuits

— June 24, 2021

Dominion claims that the CEO of MyPillow took advantage of the “Big Lie” to “dupe” Trump supporters into purchasing his products.

Three of President Donald Trump’s former lawyers and closest allies have asked a Washington-based federal judge to dismiss a set of billion-dollar defamation lawsuits filed by Dominion Voting Systems.

According to Dominion, former Trump attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, along with MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, spearheaded a bizarre propaganda campaign against the elections technology company. Collectively, the trio helped spread rumors that Dominion had fixed the results of the 2020 presidential race in Joe Biden’s favor.

The rumors quickly spread to Fox News and other right-wing media, with several Fox personalities suggesting that Dominion had ties to the regime of the late Venezuelan dictator, Hugo Chavez.

In its complaint, Dominion asserted that the defendants’ allegations amounted to a “viral disinformation campaign” which damaged the company’s reputation and led to numerous death threats.

The Washington Post notes that, in each of its lawsuits, Dominion used the defendants’ words against them, citing dozens of statements and public appearances.

A man in a suit stands at a podium, pointing.
Donald Trump. Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0

However, Dominion may struggle to evidence that the Powell, Giuliani, and Lindell knew that they were spreading misinformation when they began circulating rumors about the company.

Roy Gutterman, a First Amendment Expert and director of the Tully Center for Free Speech at Syracuse University, told the Washington Post that Dominion may struggle to meet the court’s high standard.

“It’s more than just being irresponsible, it’s really ignoring information,” Gutterman said.

Powell’s attorneys, for instance, have already begun arguing that their client’s words and actions are examples of constitutionally protected free speech. Her statements, they say, were made in Powell’s role as an attorney and as an advocate for former President Donald Trump, and should be viewed as opinions and legal theories rather than statements of fact.

Somewhat ironically, Powell’s attorneys said that “no reasonable person” would have believed their client’s words were “truly statements of fact.”

Nevertheless, Gutterman said that, if U.S. District Judge Carl. J. Nichols does allow the lawsuit to proceed, then Dominion will likely reduce its evidence to a handful of critical statements.

Gutterman suggested that public figures must still avoid defaming individuals and entities.

“It’s fun to go on TV and say anything you want to say and zealously defend a client or a movement, but you still have to avoid defaming people or entities,” Gutterman said. “There are limits.”

However, Lindell’s legal team has called the lawsuit “nothing more than a media-driven ploy to discredit or silence anyone who exposes Dominion’s voting systems as the hackable and exploitable threat to American democracy that they are.”

In response, though, Dominion has alleged that Lindell and his company promoted “the inherently improbable Big Lie that the election had been stolen from Trump because they thought their defamatory marketing campaign would dupe Trump supporters into buying MyPillows.”


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