U.S. District Court Judge Carl Nichols rejected the attempts of lawyers for Mike Lindell, Sidney Powell, and Rudy Giuliani to throw out a defamation case brought against them by the election technology company Dominion.
The defendants’ argument found little resonance from the Trump-appointed judge who seemed “disdainful of their conduct” and claims that their statements were protected as political debate.
“As an initial matter, there is no blanket immunity for statements that are ‘political’ in nature,” Nichols wrote. “It is true that courts recognize the value in some level of ‘imaginative expression’ or ‘rhetorical hyperbole’ in our public debate. … But it is simply not the law that provably false statements cannot be actionable if made in the context of an election.”
The judge noted that many statements appeared to be claims that could be verifiable as facts, and could be proved either true or false.
“The question, then, is whether a reasonable juror could conclude that Powell’s statements expressed or implied a verifiably false fact about Dominion,” the judge wrote. “This is not a close call.”
- Powell repeated said that the founder of Dominion had said he could change vast numbers of votes by a personal whim. “These statements are either true or not; either Powell has a video depicting the founder of Dominion saying he can ‘change a million votes,’ or she does not,” Nichols said.
- The judge also dismissed Powell’s claims that her statements did not meet the definition of “actual malice” because she relied on sworn affidavits — affidavits that Powell herself had helped create. Nichols wrote that “Dominion alleges that Powell’s ‘evidence’ was either falsified by Powell herself, misrepresented and cherry-picked, or so obviously unreliable that Powell had to have known it was false or had acted with reckless disregard for the truth.”
- Nichols also allowed Dominion to press claims of deceptive trade practices against the defendants when Powell’s attorneys said she was not “engaged in trade and commerce of goods” at the time of her statements. But the judge said that Powell, Lindell, and My Pillow stood to profit financially by spreading false and inaccurate information.
The judge’s ruling is not the final word in the matter as Dominion has a series of lawsuits against the defendants and the news outlets providing them a platform.
Report from Politico.