On Monday, Dominion Voting Systems filed a mammoth defamation lawsuit against Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor and former lawyer for President Donald Trump. Giuliani helped lead Trump’s effort to contest the results of the 2020 election. He raised serious concerns about election irregularities but also voiced salacious and unconfirmed claims about Dominion which the lawsuit condemns as absolutely false and malicious.
The 107-page lawsuit, first reported by The New York Times, accuses Giuliani of carrying out “a viral disinformation campaign about Dominion” involving “demonstrably false” allegations, in part to enrich himself through legal fees and through his podcast.
“During a court hearing contesting the results of the 2020 election in Pennsylvania, Rudy Giuliani admitted that the Trump Campaign ‘doesn’t plead fraud’ and that ‘this is not a fraud case.’ Although he was unwilling to make false election fraud claims about Dominion and its voting machines in a court of law because he knew those allegations are false, he and his allies manufactured and disseminated the ‘Big Lie,’ which foreseeably went viral and deceived millions of people into believing that Dominion had stolen their votes and fixed the election,” the lawsuit begins.
Scoop: Dominion Voting Systems has sued Rudy Giuliani for his false claims over the election.
Seeking $1.3 billion.
— Nick Corasaniti (@NYTnickc) January 25, 2021
The suit cites media reports that Giulani asked Trump to pay him $20,000 per day for his efforts contesting the election (Giuliani has denied requesting this sum from Trump).
Giuliani reportedly demanded $20,000 per day for that Big Lie. But he also cashed in by hosting a podcast where he exploited election falsehoods to market gold coins, supplements, cigars, and protection from ‘cyberthieves.’ Even after the United States Capitol had been stormed by rioters who had been deceived by Giuliani and his allies, Giuliani shirked responsibility for the consequences of his words and repeated the Big Lie again. This defamation action follows.
The lawsuit seeks more than $1.3 billion in damages, alleging that Giuliani knowingly made false claims about Dominion in more than 50 statements at legislative hearings, on Twitter, on his podcast, and in conservative media. The former mayor breathed life into the conspiracy theory that Dominion had switched votes from Trump to Biden.
Even though Dominion machines helped to count votes in states that Trump won in 2016 and in red states Trump carried in 2020, pro-Trump leaders like Giuliani claimed that Dominion rigged the election for Biden, partly as a result of alleged ties to the late Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez.
The lawsuit presents a point-by-point rebuttal to Giuliani’s claims.
“Dominion was not founded in Venezuela to fix elections for Hugo Chávez,” the lawsuit explains. “It was founded in 2002 in John Poulos’s basement in Toronto to help blind people vote on paper ballots.” Dominion’s U.S. subsidiary is based in Denver, Colo.
The company’s lawsuit painstakingly notes that while Giuliani made salacious claims about voting machines in public, he avoided mentioning such claims in court, where he could have faced legal ramifications for false statements.
“Notably, not a single one of the three complaints signed and filed by Giuliani and other attorneys for the Trump Campaign in the Pennsylvania action contained any allegations about Dominion,” the lawsuit notes.
The lawsuit also links Giuliani’s alleged defamation to the violent attack on the Capitol. The former mayor mentioned Dominion in his speech at a Trump rally before the riot and he tweeted claims about voting machines while the riot took place.
“Having been deceived by Giuliani and his allies into thinking that they were not criminals — but patriots ‘Defend[ing] the Republic’ from Dominion and its co-conspirators — they then bragged about their involvement in the crime on social media,” the lawsuit argues.
“From a defamation law perspective, it just demonstrates the depth to which these statements sink in to people,” Thomas A. Clare, a partner of the defamation law firm Clare Locke and a lawyer representing Dominion, told The New York Times. “That people don’t just read them and tune them out. It goes to the core of their belief system, which puts them in a position to take action in the real world.”
Dominion had previously warned Giuliani of legal action. In late December, the company sent the former mayor a letter, warning him to preserve all records of his claims and to stop making false statements. Giuliani persisted in his claims, however, even arguing on Twitter that officials should investigate “phony Dominion voting machines” days after receiving the company’s letter.
Last week, Giuliani said on his radio show that “so long as you have Dominion, there is clear and present danger” that election results could be rigged. He claimed he had “boxes of evidence to support his claims.”
Dominion has indicated that it plans to file more lawsuits. Earlier this month, it filed a defamation lawsuit against Syndey Powell. The lawsuit against Giuliani claims the former mayor acted with other prominent conservatives and news networks, including Mike Lindell, Lou Dobbs, Fox News, Fox Business, Newsmax, and One America News Network.
“There will certainly be others,” Clare told The New York Times. “There are other individuals who have spoken the big lie and have put forward these defamatory statements about Dominion, but then there are also players in the media that have amplified it.”
Clare did not rule out the possibility of suing Trump in this effort.
“We’re not ruling anybody out,” Dominion’s lawyer told the Times. “Obviously, this lawsuit against the president’s lawyer moves one step closer to the former president and understanding what his role was and wasn’t.”
Dominion’s legal threats have led some to withdraw fraud claims. The American Thinker apologized for printing the allegedly defamatory claims, saying that its Dominion reports “are completely false and have no basis in fact” and that “it was wrong for us to publish these false statements.”
The claims about Dominion spread like wildfire on Twitter. The lawsuit cites multiple threats of violence against the company and its employees. One employee received text messages warning, “We are already watching you. Come clean and you will live.” A voice mail message to customer support threatened, “We’re bringing back the firing squad.”
Due to these threats, Dominion has spent $565,000 on personal security, the lawsuit states. The company claims to have incurred $1.17 million in total expenses relating to the disinformation campaign after the election.
President Trump was well within his rights to contest the results of the 2020 election, but Guiliani arguably went off the deep end by claiming that Trump had won “in a landslide.” While there are serious concerns about election irregularities that interfered with the chain of custody of ballots, Trump’s allies undermined their own case by publicly championing the Dominion claims.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.