A federal district court judge, a Trump appointee to that post, Carl Nichols, ruled last Wednesday (August 11) that lawsuits brought by a manufacturer of election machines, Dominion, can continue: the defendants motions to dismiss these suits having failed to give him any reason to do so. The defendants are: former Trump attorneys Rudolph Giuliani and Sidney Powell, and pillow salesman Mike Lindell.
Judge Nichols’ opinion focuses most determinedly upon the case involving Sidney Powell, who was counsel of record for in election-related lawsuits in four states in November and December 2020. But her key statements for the purpose of this lawsuit were made not in courts but in television studios.
For example, on a TV show on November 13, Powell said that she could “hardly wait to put forth all the evidence we’ve collected on Dominion, starting with the fact it was created to produce altered voting results in Venezuela for Hugo Chavez and then [the machines were] shipped internationally….” Dominion denies that account of its corporate history.
Powell has responded to this lawsuit by contending that Dominion failed to state a proper defamation complaint because it cited statements of hers that were mere opinions, not offered as statements of fact.
The Thing to Know:
On a motion to dismiss, Judge Nichols wrote, the question is whether a reasonable juror could infer that Powell’s statements expressed or implied a false statement of fact about Dominion, given — for purposes of deciding this motion — the facts as Dominion has alleged them. This, Nichols said, is not even a close call.
It remains open, of course, for Powell or the other defendants to maintain that the statements at issue are true, and to contest at the trial to issue of whether for example Dominion really did come into existence at the beck and call of Hugo Chavez. That might make for an intriguing trial.