Attorneys on either side should get ready for some of the most entertaining discovery in American jurisprudence … but only one side will end up enjoying it. Dominion Voting Systems CEO John Poulos told Axios today that the company will file a defamation suit against former Team Trump attorney Sidney Powell “imminently.” The company had signaled for the last couple of weeks that defamation suits would be forthcoming, and this almost certainly won’t be the last of them:
Dominion Voting Systems plans to sue attorney Sidney Powell “imminently” for defamation, and is continuing to explore similar suits against President Trump and others, company founder and CEO John Poulos told the Axios Re:Cap podcast on Monday.
Between the lines: Dominion, which makes the voting machines used in Georgia and elsewhere, has been the subject of baseless accusations of malfeasance during last November’s elections.
Poulos tells Axios that the “surreal” tipping point was the “crazy” press conference called by Rudy Giuliani and which featured Powell’s “Kraken” claims. The source of most of their problems has been Powell, and Poulos says that’s why “our focus right now is on Sidney Powell” for the lawsuits. She’s the only target to whom Poulos will “commit” at the moment, but it’s clear that she’s not their exclusive concern:
DP: Going back a little bit, you talked about the Sidney Powell press conference. And last month, you guys, Dominion, sent cease and desist letters to, among others, Fox News, OANN, to Powell. Are you planning to file actual lawsuits for defamation?
DP: Against who?
JP: Our focus right now is on Sidney Powell. And there’s a very good reason for that. She is by far, in our opinion, the most egregious and prolific purveyor of the falsities against Dominion. Her statements have caused real damage. They’re demonstrably false. Um, in our opinion, it’s extremely easy to verify that we were not created in Venezuela.
That’s just one of the many of the crazy allegations made against us. And we were originally quiet and we sat back as a company because our hope was that all of these claims would be filed in a process in court where procedure and evidence is important. And it’s become clear to us that there is absolutely no interest to reveal this evidence.
And because we know it doesn’t exist and there’s no effort to actually put it in front of a court proceeding so that these allegations and all of the evidence can follow a proper process and be litigated right to the end. And because of that, that’s why we’re filing.
This brings us to the whole “I can’t wait for discovery” response from Powell’s supporters. Usually (but not exclusively), the plaintiffs in a case are the parties who anticipate benefiting most from the discovery process; that’s why they’re suing, after all, whether they actually have a case or not. Poulos clearly wanted to wait for Powell to set her own trap in court, but her sudden departure from the Team Trump circle apparently didn’t allow for that to happen.
Dominion’s legal work has already had an impact, however. Both Fox News and Newsmax hit reverse on promoting the Dominion conspiracy theories after receiving cease-and-desist and record-retention letters over the last couple of weeks. From that sudden change, it’s pretty easy to guess that Dominion isn’t the party that’s going to sweat the discovery process.
If it hadn’t been for Powell’s repeated tosses of gasoline on this fire, Poulos might have thought it better to let it slide. With his employees facing death threats, Poulos had little choice but to go on the offensive and start imposing real-world costs for defamation:
DP: Final question for you, John. The company has talked about you, certain employees receiving death threats. Can you talk a little bit about how this has impacted your life, your employees’ lives? And if those sorts of threats have persisted?
JP: It’s affected us all, and it’s something that we’re very angry about. It was completely unnecessary. Certainly we’re not, it’s not limited to us. Our customers are also experiencing the same thing. And for this to happen when our only job is to help people vote and to provide a very transparent tally that can be verified through hand count and recounts as has been done hundreds of times across the country, including three times in Georgia, is completely unnecessary.
In the most extreme case, we have an employee that hasn’t been able to return to his house since before the November election. He still has people driving in front of his house, and his life has been completely uprooted.
That appears to be a reference to Dominion’s security director Eric Coomer, who found himself the center of these conspiracy theories and who got doxxed early on. Coomer filed suit last week against a number of people and media entities, including Powell and Rudy Giuliani. It was at that same press conference that Giuliani called Comer “a vicious, vicious man” and “completely warped,” and Powell also attacked him personally at the presser. This came from a single source, Joseph Oltmann, whose allegations found their way into several of Powell’s “Kraken” lawsuits without any evidence to substantiate Coomer’s alleged actions.
Dominion may still have a tough time prevailing in a defamation lawsuit. After all, it is a public company that participates in the election industry, and a court might be inclined to err on the side of public debate when it comes to determining what is actionable, especially regarding media outlets and figures. Coomer won’t have that obstacle, however; he’s a private citizen in the context of Sullivan, which means he won’t have to prove actual malice, even if it seems within pretty easy reach even without discovery. Either the respondents in these suits had better hope Oltmann comes up with the evidence for his claims tout suite, or they’d better start breaking out their checkbooks.