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Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

A federal judge on Wednesday denied Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Lindell's motion to dismiss multibillion-dollar lawsuits involving their claims about the 2020 presidential election.

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."

Go deeper

Next big bet: Wagers rush in on Fed chair pick

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

There are those speculating whether Fed chair Jerome Powell gets another term. Then there are those speculating with real money on the line.

Why it matters: The explosion in retail trading is one sign of the flush consumer's betting fervor. The amped up rush to wager on political outcomes — like who's next to lead the Fed — is another.

24 mins ago - World

Melbourne, "world's most locked-down city," to lift stay-at-home orders

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews during a news conference in Melbourne, Australia, on Sunday. Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Melbourne's stay-at-home orders will end five days earlier than planned, officials in Australia's second-biggest city announced Sunday.

Why it matters: The capital of the state of Victoria has had six lockdowns totaling 262 days since March last year. That means Melbourne's spent longer under lockdowns than "any other city in the world" during the pandemic, Reuters notes.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

Up to 17 U.S. missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince earlier this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children were among up to 17 American Christian missionaries and their relatives kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday, the New York Times first reported.

Details: The missionaries had just left an orphanage and were traveling by bus to the airport to "drop off some members" when the gang abducted them in Port-au-Prince, Haitian security officials said, per the NYT.