Judge: Dominion lawsuits against Giuliani, Powell and Lindell can move forward
Why it matters: The lawsuits argue that the Trump allies' false claims of election fraud defamed the Dominion voting equipment company.
- Powell, an attorney, and Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City, both worked for the Trump campaign. Lindell is a conspiracy theorist whose bedding company took off after he began amplifying Trump's claims of fraud.
- The defendants attempted to block the defamation lawsuits on procedural and First Amendment grounds.
What they're saying: "As an initial matter, there is no blanket immunity for statements that are ‘political’ in nature," U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols wrote in his opinion.
- "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."
- Nichols wrote in his decision that the First Amendment does not offer "blanket immunity" to Powell and Lindell.
- He also dismissed Giuliani's argument that Dominion did not plead damages with enough specificity.
- Many of the Trump allies' statements, as cited in the suit, qualify as comments with factual claims which can be proven true or false, Nichols wrote.
- "The question, then, is whether a reasonable juror could conclude that Powell’s statements expressed or implied a verifiably false fact about Dominion," he said. "This is not a close call."
"We are disappointed with the Court’s decision," a lawyer for Powell said in a statement to Politico. "However, we now look forward to litigating this case on its merits and proving that Ms. Powell’s statements were accurate and certainly not published with malice."
- "We also anticipate taking full discovery of Dominion including a thorough review of its election software and machines used in the 2020 election."