Choose grills legal professionals for Fox Information, Powell, Giuliani about election claims in Smartmatic swimsuit
Rudolph Giuliani and Sidney Powell, attorneys for President Donald Trump, will perform on Thursday, Jan.
Tom Williams | CQ Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images
A skeptical judge on Tuesday questioned Fox News attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell about a series of allegations of electoral fraud at the center of a $ 2.7 billion libel lawsuit filed against them by electoral technology firm Smartmatic .
The company, which only provided services to Los Angeles County in the 2020 election, accuses the defendants of spreading the false story that it rigged the race against former President Donald Trump.
In virtual oral arguments over Fox’s motion to drop the case, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice David Cohen urged the Conservative news agency to make specific allegations made by current and former presenters Maria Bartiromo, Jeanine Pirro and Lou Dobbs in of their broadcast.
“How is that not defamatory?” Cohen once asked Fox attorney Paul Clement after referring to a Dobbs claim in mid-November that Smartmatic had been banned in Texas. The company was not banned in the state.
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Clement responded that this particular allegation was made in connection with a conversation with Giuliani, a Trump attorney at the time, who alleged shameful links between Smartmatic and another company, Dominion Voting Systems.
Smartmatic and Dominion are independent companies that have no affiliation, the companies say. Dominion has also filed libel suits against Fox, Giuliani, and Powell, among others, which spread election rigging and other conspiracy theories following President Joe Biden’s victory over Trump.
Clement argued at the hearing that the allegations made against Fox by his hosts or Trump’s legal team are inconsistent with the legal standard of defamation and are protected by the First Amendment. He also noted that guests like Powell and Giuliani were newsworthy figures discussing the day’s greatest story.
However, Smartmatic attorneys pushed back, saying the defendants made statements of fact and no expression of opinion about the voting technology company, and they did not have “blanket immunity” to distribute defamatory content.
They also opposed Clement’s argument that the Dobbs show, which was canceled in February, is viewed primarily as opinion programming and that the allegations made on it are therefore “interpreted more as opinions”.
Smartmatic attorney Erik Connolly responded that Dobbs had “done everything in his power to reinforce the notion that he and his guests were delivering concrete facts to the audience”.
Howard Kleinhendler, a Powell attorney, argued at the hearing that Smartmatic had no reputation or grounds to sue them because Texas-based Powell had not made any of its controversial claims from New York.
Cohen then asked Kleinhendler to clarify the basis for a number of Powell’s claims about Smartmatic, including the fact that “millions” of votes were flipped and that his company manual explains how to delete votes. Kleinhendler was unable to respond to some of the allegations presented to him by the judge.
Powell was fired from Trump’s legal team after a press conference claiming Dominion was part of a communist election rigging conspiracy between Venezuela and Cuba. Powell praised her own efforts as “Kraken,” the publication of which would make the difference in the elections.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Connolly told Cohen that Powell’s false election claims and her demeanor as the “angel of revenge” who would undo Biden’s victory were part of a fundraiser that raised millions of dollars.
“It’s an advertisement for her,” Connolly said of Powell’s five appearances on Fox. He claims that at those appearances she called herself the “champion” of the lie that Smartmatic rigged the election before directing viewers to her website to make donations.
“Defamation and fundraising go hand in hand,” Connolly said.
Joseph Sibley, a lawyer for Giuliani, argued at the hearing that the former New York mayor’s claims about Smartmatic were “product denigration” and not defamation.