January 11, 2021
Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems—which serves 28 U.S. states nationwide—has brought a $1.3 billion defamation suit against the conservative lawyer Sidney Powel, alleging that her false and outlandish claims about fraud in the 2020 election “caused unprecedented harm,” CNBC reports.
The suit is the first in an expected flurry of high-priced litigation against prominent conspiracy theorists and right-wing media organizations that have spread baseless falsehoods about President Donald Trump’s defeat in last November’s election.
It comes as the nation continues to reckon with the aftermath of Wednesday’s deadly insurrection by a mob of Trump supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol.
The supplier of voting machines brought the suit in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. The company warned last month that it would bring defamation suits against those trumpeting conspiracy theories about its voting machines, including Fox News and major media personalities.
Powell did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC. The attorney, a former member of Trump’s legal team, has falsely claimed among other things that Dominion was somehow created by the deceased Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez to rig the 2020 contest. Chavez died in 2013.
“As a result of the defamatory falsehoods peddled by Powell—in concert with likeminded allies and media outlets who were determined to promote a false preconceived narrative—Dominion’s founder, Dominion’s employees, Georgia’s governor, and Georgia’s secretary of state have been harassed and have received death threats, and Dominion has suffered enormous harm,” Dominion attorney Thomas Clare said in the 124-page lawsuit.
The suit says the company issued Powell a letter formally warning her to stop lying about the company, and cited a tweet that she posted shortly afterward refusing to do so.
“Powell doubled down, tweeting to her 1.2 million Twitter followers that she heard that ‘#Dominion’ had written to her and that, although she had not even seen Dominion’s letter yet, she was ‘retracting nothing’ because ‘[w]e have #evidence’ and ‘They are #fraud masters!’,” the company said.
Dominion asked the court to award it at least $651,735,000 in compensatory damages and the same amount in punitive damages, in addition to paying for the expenses it incurred filing the litigation. The suit lists Defending the Republic, a company Powell has used for fundraising purposes, as a defendant alongside Powell.
Powell and Wood, another conspiracy theorist lawyer, held a joint “Stop the Steal” rally in Georgia in December in which they spread conspiracy theories about the election. Wood frequently tweeted conspiracy theories about Chief Justice John Roberts and the election until he was banned from the platform this week.
Powell, a former federal prosecutor, and Wood, had filed lawsuits in district courts in Georgia and Michigan seeking to overturn the results of the presidential election. All of the lawsuits have been dismissed.
“Powell and Wood filed their election lawsuits—which never had a chance of reversing the results of the election—with the obvious and cynical purpose of creating court documents they could post on their fundraising websites and tout as ‘evidence’ during their media campaign,” the Dominion lawsuit says.
It also accuses the attorneys of seeking “to raise funds and their public profiles, and to ingratiate themselves to Donald Trump for additional benefits and opportunities that they expected to receive as a result of their association with him.”
Wood did not immediately return a request for comment from CNBC.
Other lawsuits are expected shortly.
Research contact: @CNBC