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Judge denies Trump allies’ request to dismiss defamation case brought by former Dominion leader falsely accused of election rigging

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Friday’s decision by District Judge Marie Avery Moses means the defamation case will move forward to trial, opening the door to further discovery that could shed light on the ‘big lie’ narrative that propelled the attempt. of Trump to cancel the election.

“There is no constitutional value in false statements of fact or the deliberate dissemination of dangerous and inflammatory political disinformation intended to sow distrust in democratic institutions,” the judge wrote. “The public has an active interest in ensuring that there are remedies for defamatory statements.”

The case was brought by Eric Coomer, a former Dominion Voting Systems executive, after several Trump allies falsely claimed Coomer was involved in a plot to rig the 2020 election.

On Friday, the Denver-based state court judge denied demands by defendants — including the Trump campaign, Trump-aligned lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, and other right-wing figures — that the case be dismissed .

She said that based on the evidence presented so far in the case, Coomer “will be able to present the following credible evidence to a jury that would be sufficient to meet the standard of clear and convincing evidence in support of his legal allegations.

At this stage of the proceedings, the judge must consider the evidence and assertions put forward by Coomer to be true. With that in mind, she said Coomer presented evidence showing “actual malice” – a standard Coomer will have to prove to succeed in his trial.

“There is evidence that Giuliani’s allegations against Coomer were consistent with a preconceived scenario of fraud given his post-election fraud allegations,” the judge wrote. “Furthermore, there is evidence that Giuliani had an incentive to defame Coomer both to support former President Trump and to maintain national attention. This evidence is sufficient to support a finding of actual malice.”

Judge cites minimal scrutiny of election rigging allegations by Trump allies

Already, the case has revealed that Trump’s allies have done little to investigate the unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud before repeating them in the public arena. The discovery Coomer was entitled to at the motion to dismiss stage produced a campaign memo from Trump – written days before Giuliani and Powell held their infamous RNC press conference where they promoted the voter fraud allegations – which debunked many of the allegations Trump’s lawyers continued to make.

As part of the motion to dismiss, Powell, Guliani and others who have bolstered Trump’s voter fraud lies sat for depositions in which they said they had looked into the allegations very little. regarding Coomer before touting those allegations to a national audience.

“The Trump campaign continues to take the position that the election was the result of fraud, but has offered absolutely no facts to support that claim, and no idea how Coomer could have helped a alleged voter fraud,” the judge wrote, referring to a deposition. a campaign representative gave into the matter.

As they sought to challenge Trump’s 2020 election defeat, Powell and Giuliani both pointed to an unsubstantiated claim — made first by a conservative Colorado media figure, Joe Oltmann — that Coomer bragged during from a conference call organized by Antifa to a plot to rig the election of President Joe Biden.

“Giuliani had good reason to know that his information regarding Coomer was unreliable and false. Prior to making statements regarding Coomer at the November 19, 2020 press conference, Giuliani spent virtually no time investigating on Coomer or the Antifa appeal,” the judge wrote, noting Giuliani. remarks in the deposition.

The judge noted that Powell continued “to assert that the statements were substantially true”, but did not “produce any evidence upon which to conclude that any of these statements were true”.

In a statement to CNN after the decision, Powell said she planned to appeal the “erroneous” decision.

“My statements regarding Mr. Coomer stemmed from an affidavit under penalty of perjury and were used in cases I filed,” she said. “Colorado law and litigation privilege should apply to protect my speech. Lawyers and judges rely on sworn information to make decisions every day.”

Oltmann is a defendant in the case, as are right-wing commentator Michelle Malkin, who hosted interviews with Oltmann, and Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft. Coomer also sued the far-right One America News network and its correspondent Chanel Rion, which featured the claims in an OAN broadcast segment titled “Dominion-izing the Vote.”

The motions to dismiss filed by these defendants were also dismissed.

“The court has delivered a comprehensive and well-reasoned opinion that adds another volume to the judiciary’s massive dismissal of baseless election fraud allegations,” Coomer’s attorney Charlie Cain said in a statement late Friday. “There is a long way to go, but this is an important decision for him and for the broader fight to safeguard our democracy.”

Other efforts to hold accountable those who pushed the 2020 election

Coomer’s case is one of many legal efforts aimed at holding accountable those who served as mouthpieces for Trump’s lies about 2020 voter fraud.

A federal judge in Michigan has sanctioned Powell and several other attorneys who have worked on lawsuits challenging the 2020 election results, for the “frivolous” lawsuit they filed in that state. Powell and others facing penalties appealed the judge’s order.

A similar effort in Wisconsin to seek sanctions for an election nullification lawsuit filed there by Trump has failed.

Coomer’s lawsuit is separate from the defamation cases brought by Dominion, which include lawsuits in Washington, D.C., against Powell, Giuliani, and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, as well as a lawsuit Dominion filed in a Delaware court. against Fox.

Smartmatic, another electoral systems company that has been the target of voter fraud conspiracy theory, has also filed defamation lawsuits against several vendors of these allegations.

This story has been updated with additional details and reaction.

Sources

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2/ https://www.cnn.com/2022/05/13/politics/coomer-case-dominion/index.html

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