Dominion Voting Systems Files Defamation Lawsuit Against Former Trump Lawyer, Sidney Powell

from the kraken-released,-presumed-searching-for-competent-representation dept

We write a lot about defamation suits here at Techdirt. Most of what we cover are baseless lawsuits — lawsuits featuring powerful people “punching down” in hopes of silencing critics.

But this case is on a more equitable level. As the election results rolled in last November, the Trump Administration maintained the election had been “stolen.” The fantasies of the lame duck were encouraged and enabled by lawyers who should have known better. This includes Rudy Giuliani — self-proclaimed 9/11 hero and all-around evidence that satire is dead.

One of Trump’s lawyers went on the warpath. Sidney Powell — one-time legal counsel to the President — sued as early and often as possible, hoping to get key election results thrown out. The evidence the so-called “Kraken” brought with her wasn’t really evidence of anything. It made “hearsay and conjecture” seem like a solid basis for a lawsuit. What Powell brought with her was a combination of sovereign citizen fanfic and anthropomorphized YouTube videos.

Trump cut ties with Powell — perhaps considering her too far out there for even his OAN-enabled fever dreams. She went on without him, ensuring taxpayers would keep paying to defend the Republic against wild fantasies of widespread voter fraud and election machinery interference.

Powell targeted Dominion Voting Systems early and often, apparently only because they were deployed in Georgia — a state Trump lost that he did not expect to lose. Georgia has a problem with election security, but for years, elected officials have chosen to attack Democrats and bury negative info rather than address these problems.

Powell’s lawsuits aren’t going to make voting in Georgia any more secure. But they may carve some holes in Powell’s bank accounts. Dominion Voting Systems isn’t happy with Powell’s assertions about its products. After weeks of being publicly reamed by Trump and his litigious supporters, Dominion is fighting back.

Taking an action long promised to be “imminent,” Dominion Voting Systems has sued right-wing lawyer Sidney Powell. The company seeks damages to the tune of more than $1.3 billion for “wild” and “demonstrably false” allegations against the company that Powell made through “conspiracy theorists, con artists, armchair ‘experts,’ and anonymous sources.”

“During a Washington, D.C. press conference, a Georgia political rally, and a media blitz, Powell falsely claimed that Dominion had rigged the election, that Dominion was created in Venezuela to rig elections for Hugo Chávez, and that Dominion bribed Georgia officials for a no-bid contract,” the 124-page complaint states.

Dominion is a public entity. That raises the bar for successfully alleging defamation. Sidney Powell is a public figure as well, which evens things out a bit. And some of her accusations were made outside of a courtroom, where immunity for statements made during litigation doesn’t apply. Powell was given a chance to retract her allegedly defamatory statements but refused to do so. And now it’s a lawsuit [PDF].

As Dominion points out, many of the “arguments” made in court were aired publicly by Powell during press conferences and political rallies. There’s no immunity for these accusations — ones Dominion says have no basis in reality.

Powell’s wild accusations are demonstrably false. Far from being created in Venezuela to rig elections for a now-deceased Venezuelan dictator, Dominion was founded in Toronto for the purpose of creating a fully auditable paper-based vote system that would empower people with disabilities to vote independently on verifiable paper ballots. As it grew, Dominion developed technology to solve many of the technical and voter intent issues that came to light as a result of the 2000 Presidential Election. Its systems are certified under standards promulgated by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (“EAC”), reviewed and tested by independent testing laboratories accredited by the EAC, and were designed to be auditable and include a paper ballot backup to verify results. Since its founding, Dominion has been chosen by thousands of election officials throughout the United States to provide the technology to effectively administer transparent and fully auditable elections.

When you don’t have the facts, you pound the table. Powell’s fists must be pretty raw.

When respected Georgia Republicans disproved Powell’s false accusations by announcing that Georgia’s paper ballot recount had verified the accuracy of Dominion’s vote counts, Powell sought to discredit them by falsely accusing Dominion of paying kickbacks to them and their families in return for a no-bid contract. The only “evidence” Powell ever put forward to support that false accusation was a doctored certificate from the Georgia Secretary of State. Powell has insinuated that the fact that the certificate is undated is suspicious. In reality, the authentic certificate is dated and is publicly available on the Georgia Secretary of State’s website…

If you don’t want your fists bruised and your ass sued, maybe try to secure some real evidence before holding press conferences and filing lawsuits.

Powell’s “evidence” included declarations from a motley crew of conspiracy theorists, con artists, armchair “experts,” and anonymous sources who were judicially determined to be “wholly unreliable.”

And don’t say stuff like this in public:

Powell deliberately lied about having a video of Dominion’s founder saying he could “change a million votes, no problem at all.” Powell has never produced that recording because it does not exist.

Sidney Powell will once again be asked to explain herself by federal court judges. But this time, she’ll be doing it as a defendant. A smarter conspiracy theorist may have confined their baseless claims to legal filings, where they would be shielded by immunity. But the “Kraken” decided she needed to rouse the rabble periodically. And now she could be on the hook for millions of dollars in damages. (Dominion is asking for $651 million, but it seems unlikely this will be the judgment amount, even if the company wins handily.)

There are plenty of legitimate reasons to be concerned about election security and foreign interference in elections. Powell’s claims, however, aren’t legitimate. They’re fantasies constructed by people who should never be relied on as witnesses, much less “expert” ones. Powell’s decision to pander to Trump and amplify baseless allegations made by internet detritus looks like it’s going to come back to hurt her.

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Comments on “Dominion Voting Systems Files Defamation Lawsuit Against Former Trump Lawyer, Sidney Powell”

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42 Comments
Annonymouse says:

So they won’t pull any shenanigans during discovery?

I somehow doubt a competent defense….. oh dam that might be a problem,…. would allow them to hide anything behind the walls of proprietary information or copyright, but they will.

Then there are the oh so trustworthy three letter agencies who will neither confirm nor deny investigations or exploits of these systems.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I’m rather unclear what you’re trying to say here.

Based on previous experience, Powell’s team will definitely attempt to pull shenanigans during discovery. Dominion doesn’t really have a need to, as aside from the baseless claims against them spread by Powell, they appear to have done things by the book.

And I’m rather unsure of which TLAs you’re casting shade on here, and what they have to do with a defamation lawsuit.

Annonymouse says:

Re: Re: Re:

Posters further down have elaborated in language better than I could have on the core issues of the legal aspects on this case.

I personally trust that corporate management is not to be trusted.
Put simply every commercial enterprise has done something questionable and lied about it. The only question here is, will those lies damn them when exposed.

When it comes to data security and integrity it has been discussed at length and repeatedly here on this site that there are issues and a number of TLAs have hoarded such issues for their own use. Would any of those agencies fiddle with these particular systems? Doubtful but not impossible.
Would any of their agents misuse those tools. Highly likely given past incidents that came to light in the past and who knows how many incidents were buried or never came to light in the first place.

Anonymous Coward says:

Yeah, it’s just beyond the pale, after all the years security experts have pointed out the problems with a lot of the electronic voting systems and had been roundly ignored, that we have been forced to sit through this fantasy attack on mail-in paper ballots and a clearly auditable commercial voting system.

Good job, folks. Good job.

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David says:

Re: Re:

that we have been forced to sit through this fantasy attack on mail-in paper ballots and a clearly auditable commercial voting system.

Maybe that’s the point? Nobody wants to hear anything about voter fraud anymore. Like from the electronic voting machines without paper trail built by companies owned by sponsors of the Republican party and with software changes after certification.

Maybe the whole point of the Republican party crying about purported fraud in countries won by Democrats (or at least the Democratic president-elect) is to stop people from wanting to look more closely at countries won by Republicans.

Maybe their whole outrage is not as much about the Democrats having cheated in the election rather than about the Republicans not having cheated enough.

Maybe they thought their presidential candidate was a shoo-in and so they only cheated down-ticket where it would be less conspicuous. And the smoke-screen they raise now stops people from looking closer.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Maybe the whole point of the Republican party crying about purported fraud in countries won by Democrats (or at least the Democratic president-elect) is to stop people from wanting to look more closely at countries won by Republicans.

Given how often (and how forcefully) the GOP engages in voter suppression, this notion isn’t too farfetched.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: 'We're never wrong, so the only way we can lose is cheating.'

While I most certainly wouldn’t put it past them at the same time they are petty and entitled enough that I could also see part of their motivations being simply believing that they deserve power and therefore anyone outside of their group who wins must have been cheating since the public would never vote for a non-republican by choice.

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Anonymous Coward says:

All the President's Lawyers

Ken White, with Josh Barro, discusses the Dominion lawsuit against Sidney Powell in yesterday’s All The President’s Lawyers episode, “Insurrection and impeachment” (Jan 13, 2021). That discussion begins just before the 1 hr mark, at about 59:30 in, although I’d recommend listening to the whole thing from the beginning(*).

Ken White characterizes this lawsuit as—

Unusually strong for a defamation lawsuit related to political rhetoric.

 

(*) In fact, I wanted to note this episode for a completely different reason.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Not a friviolous suit at all

Imagine that, if you make bogus claims relating to a company up to and including accusing them of bribery they tend not to be too happy with you, who ever could have seen that coming.

As far as lawsuits go this one strikes me as anything but frivolous and/or unwarranted, Powell made some damning accusations in order to prop up the conspiracy theory of election fraud they were pushing and they absolutely deserve to have the hammer brought down on them for it along with a hefty financial penalty to make clear that you aren’t allowed to engage in that sort of behavior without consequences.

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Michael says:

Diebold

Remember when the CEO of Diebold voting machines said in 2003 that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to [George W. Bush] next year."

Funny how no Republicans pretended to be upset about the obvious corruption or conflict of interest there.

https://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/0828-08.htm

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sumgai (profile) says:

Dominion is asking for $651 million….

I’d ask for her law license – in all jurisdictions, not just her home system. Better to get imbeciles like her out of the legal profession than to let them get out of having to answer for her indiscretions because she doesn’t have that kind of money.

Remember, defamation of almost every kind is a civil matter, so no jail time will attach to her claims/actions. But hey, if it could be proven that she acted in conspiracy with others to defraud the country of its rightful voting results, then that would likely get right next to Prenda-ville…. I mean, both defrockation and a new orange wardrobe for the next decade or two. Best possible outcome in my book.

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royleith (profile) says:

Re: Sidney powell sued

I agree entirely and I am unanimous in that. I am not a Democrat since I am from Tunbridge Wells, but my attorney, Lionel Hutz, points out that the judge’s disregarding of Sidney Powell’s evidence is a disgrace, so disgraceful.

There will be trouble!

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Sidney powell sued

"Your article is bias and leaves out pertinent information"

This is supposed to be where you provide the information you feel was left out and allow a discussion as to why. Instead, you chose the lie and wail and whine like a toddler option.

Why are you people always such pathetic children?

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I don’t think we’re dealing with the intellectually curious here, so it’s more of a tell (like using loose instead of lose, or que instead of cue or queue) that they’re not among the greater minds online. The occasional misspelling or typo is fine for everyone, but I do find it interesting they certain types of commenter tend to misuse the same words in the same way on a regular basis.

sumgai (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

did they not learn [anything] during their grade school years?

I’m sorry to have to inform you that you’ve committed a faux pas – you incorrectly assumed that the aforementioned troll(s) made it into grade school in the first place. No, they were simply placed into a state-mandated incarceration involving advanced sand pounding and other toddler-appropriate activities.

Education of any sort, including treating others with civility, being the lowest on the list of those other activities.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"Everyone here posts as if they’ve never lied about someone they were arguing with"

Yes, because many of us have never done such a thing and prefer to depend on things like facts, logic and verifiable sources, even going so far as to retract an argument if proven wrong. I know small-minded individuals like yourself prefer to "win" an argument rather than discuss differing opinions honestly, but some of us prefer to use arguments to gain knowledge rather than score a pathetic meaningless "point".

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bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Maybe because we’ve actually never lied about someone we were arguing with online in an attempt to win an argument we were losing. Maybe we actually rely on true facts, logic, and reasonable opinions to make our case and admit to mistakes when we make them. Maybe we don’t rely on “censorship” to silence the opposition, nor on deceit to win arguments we were losing. Has that thought never occurred to you? Why does that surprise you?

Sure, I’ve lied, but not in an online argument to try to “win”.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"he same libel people use even here like when someone is pro-copyright they are often defamed in response"

LOL yeah, right… None of you copyright humpers can make an argument in support of it without lying about the imagined piracy activity of the people you’re talking to.

"Only reasons libel lawsuits don’t stem from that is the use of pseudonyms."

Says the defamer hiding behind anonymity…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Tons of logic behind copyright law that only the moochers and parasites seem to miss: No one is entitled to the property of another, or does that just apply . If you don’t like content creators, don’t buy their content, but stealing is illegal. Those who profit from piracy are criminals and criminals shouldn’t be allowed to profit.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

when someone is pro-copyright they are often defamed in response

I’ve made a pro-copyright statement here (well, pro-ish) that got Most Insightful for the week. Maybe the reaction you’re seeing is not based on the argument, but how it’s presented.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

It does depend on what the arguments are. If you say "I support copyright due to X", or "this system needs to be in place due to Y", then there’s room for discussion on X and Y. If you say "you pirates are only jealous because this means you can’t steal as much stuff", it’s not going to go over well, and you’ll probably get called a lying moron by a few people.

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