He’s gonna need a lot of $20,000-a-day clients to pay this one off. Dominion Voting Systems filed another $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit, this time against Rudy Giuliani, citing dozens of statements made by Giuliani in a variety of venues. Giuliani follows Sidney Powell as targets of Dominion’s legal actions, but they’re not going to be alone for long:
Dominion Voting Systems filed a defamation lawsuit on Monday against Rudolph W. Giuliani, the lawyer for Donald J. Trump and former mayor of New York City who played a key role in the former president’s months-long effort to subvert the 2020 election.
The 107-page lawsuit, filed in the Federal District Court in Washington, accuses Mr. Giuliani of carrying out “a viral disinformation campaign about Dominion” made up of “demonstrably false” allegations, in part to enrich himself through legal fees and his podcast.
The suit seeks damages of more than $1.3 billion and is based on more than 50 statements Mr. Giuliani made at legislative hearings, on Twitter, on his podcast and in the conservative news media, where he spun a fictitious narrative of a plot by one of the biggest voting machine manufacturers in the country to flip votes to President Biden.
I would have guessed that Lin Wood would be the next target of Dominion’s lawyers, not Giuliani. Wood and Powell drove much of the Dominion conspiracy theories, especially in Georgia, where it likely cost the GOP two Senate seats they will dearly miss for the next two years. Giuliani did a lot of talking about Dominion too, however, and as the top lawyer in Donald Trump’s legal effort to challenge election results, Giuliani lent the defamatory statements a lot more credibility than they deserved.
Of course, Giuliani might be an easier target. Wood can claim insanity as a mitigating factor, but Dominion has a pretty good argument that Giuliani knew exactly what he was doing. The lawsuit points out the one venue Giuliani notably didn’t allege that the company participated in a conspiracy to throw the election:
Laying out a timeline of Mr. Giuliani’s comments about Dominion on Twitter, his podcast and Fox News, the company notes that Mr. Giuliani avoided mentioning Dominion in court, where he could have faced legal ramifications for falsehoods. “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 says.
Isn’t that interesting? That would go a long way to arguing for actual malice in case a judge determines Dominion to be a “public person” in the Sullivan sense. That requires the respondent to have known the statements to be defamatory before publishing them. I pointed out repeatedly that Team Trump’s PR campaign made very different claims than Giuliani et al made in court, and this was the biggest lacuna in their legal case. That strongly suggests that Giuliani knew the allegations were false, or at the very least that no evidence existed to substantiate them. Powell and Wood might be able to get by on claims that they truly believed this nonsense, but Giuliani’s actions makes that strategy a lot more difficult.
Plus, let’s not forget Giuliani’s reprise of his Dominion song on January 6. That alone didn’t prompt the lawsuit, but it might go a long way toward showing just how much damage Giuliani’s defamation has caused:
The lawsuit also links Mr. Giuliani’s false statements about Dominion to the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, noting that he mentioned the company in his speech at a rally for Mr. Trump before the attack, as well as numerous times on social media as the Capitol was breached.
“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 suit states.
That January 6th speech was sheer idiocy, and a defamation lawsuit might not be the worst of Giuliani’s legal troubles from it. (Giuliani has already been referred for disbarment for his role in the Capitol riots.) Even if it doesn’t result in criminal charges, though, what was Giuliani thinking? He knew Dominion would be filing defamation suits, and yet the man picked by Trump to lead his legal team practically gift-wrapped this defamation suit.
And for those who say, “Oh, Giuliani just wanted to force Dominion into discovery,” don’t count on this being the trap you think. Giuliani could have forced Dominion into discovery by filing his own lawsuits on Trump’s behalf or including Dominion into the electoral challenges. Powell and Wood tried that and came up empty. In fact, I’d bet that Dominion’s discovery demands will be far more interesting in this case, especially regarding Giuliani and his legal team’s notes about Dominion. There’s a good reason that none of their team’s complaints mentioned Dominion, and it will be verrrry interesting to see just how widely the falsity of those claims were known within the team. The only people passing the popcorn in this case are Democrats and Dominion.