A federal judge in Washington ruled Wednesday that Dominion Voting Systems can proceed with three billion-dollar defamation lawsuits against former Trump campaign lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani and MyPillow founder Mike Lindell, all of whom accused Dominion of rigging the 2020 election against former President Donald Trump. U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols rejected the three defendants' motions to dismiss Dominion's suits, writing that Powell and Lindell in particular made claims about the voting machine company "knowing that they were false or with reckless disregard for the truth."
The separate arguments from Powell, Lindell, and Giuliani "found little resonance with Nichols, a Trump appointee who seemed disdainful of their conduct and of suggestions that their statements were within the bounds of freewheeling political debate," Politico reports. "The ruling is far from the final word on the cases, which are several in a series of suits Dominion has filed against its critics and the news outlets that gave them prominent platforms. However, the decision was something of a rout for the Trump allies."
Tackling Powell's free-speech argument, Nichols wrote in his 44-page decision that "it is simply not the law that provably false statements cannot be actionable if made in the context of an election." So the question, he added, "is whether a reasonable juror could conclude that Powell's statements expressed or implied a verifiably false fact about Dominion. This is not a close call."
As for Lindell's accusations, Nichols wrote, "a reasonable juror could conclude that the existence of a vast international conspiracy that is ignored by the government but proven by a spreadsheet on an internet blog is so inherently improbable that only a reckless man would believe it." Giuliani had made technical legal objections to Dominion's lawsuits, and Nichols dismissed those, too.
A lawyer for Powell, Howard Kleinhendler, said they "are disappointed with the curt's decision" but "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." He also suggested they would try to use the legal discovery process to investigate Dominion's software and voting machines. Dominion said it is "pleased to see this process moving forward to hold Mike Lindell, MyPillow, Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and [Powell's] Defending The Republic accountable."