So much for the just wait until discovery claims about the impending doom of Dominion Voting Systems and their defamation lawsuits. According to the New York Times, not only did no one in the Trump campaign have proof of the outlandish claims against Dominion, they had already concluded that the fraud claims were baseless before Sidney Powell et al launched the infamous “Kraken” challenges. Court documents filed last week and revealed today allegedly show the campaign sat on that information rather than contradict Powell, and perhaps worse, liability-wise:
By the time the news conference occurred on Nov. 19, Mr. Trump’s campaign had already prepared an internal memo on many of the outlandish claims about the company, Dominion Voting Systems, and the separate software company, Smartmatic. The memo had determined that those allegations were untrue.
The court papers, which were initially filed late last week as a motion in a defamation lawsuit brought against the campaign and others by a former Dominion employee, Eric Coomer, contain evidence that officials in the Trump campaign were aware early on that many of the claims against the companies were baseless. …
According to emails contained in the documents, Zach Parkinson, then the campaign’s deputy director of communications, reached out to subordinates on Nov. 13 asking them to “substantiate or debunk” several matters concerning Dominion. The next day, the emails show, Mr. Parkinson received a copy of a memo cobbled together by his staff from what largely appear to be news articles and public fact-checking services.
It didn’t take much to debunk nearly the entire Kraken archipelago of conspiracy-theory elements, not even inside the Trump campaign:
Even though the memo was hastily assembled, it rebutted a series of allegations that Ms. Powell and others were making in public. It found:
That Dominion did not use voting technology from the software company, Smartmatic, in the 2020 election.
That Dominion had no direct ties to Venezuela or to Mr. Soros.
And that there was no evidence that Dominion’s leadership had connections to left-wing “antifa” activists, as Ms. Powell and others had claimed.
Other than that, how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?
Let’s assume for the sake of argument this is as dispositive as the NYT presents it. (Were there later internal memos with evidence that supported the Kraken theories? Doubtful, but it’s possible.) According to Alan Feuer, there is no evidence that Donald Trump himself got a copy of the memo. Still, the memo helps advance Dominion’s case to the extent that they can show people on the campaign promoting the Kraken theories after this memo got circulated. Dominion may or may not be a “public person” in the Sullivan sense, but this memo would help lay out a case for actual malice in any defamation that occurred.
Of course, that defamation would have to specifically relate to Dominion and Coomer in this case. It’s not enough to point out vague claims about the election being stolen. They would need to show that Dominion and Coomer were specifically and explicitly defamed by false statements made knowingly by the defendants.
That last point — “knowingly” — might prove a tough burden for those Dominion has sued outside the campaign. For instance, Mike Lindell likely wouldn’t have seen that internal memo, although he certainly should have performed his own due diligence before launching his own campaign against Dominion. This memo probably won’t help in that lawsuit. But then again, if Dominion’s overarching goal is to regain its former reputation, it certainly doesn’t hurt.
That leaves us with a couple of questions. First: with this memo lurking in the background, why didn’t the campaign settle with Dominion? And second: will the people who trusted the campaign and Trump on this conspiracy theory put aside the “stop the steal” conspiracy theories? Or will they continue to insist that discovery will save the entire enterprise?