Lawyers representing attorney Sidney Powell, who was sued for defamation by Dominion Voting Systems in January, argued this week that “no reasonable person” would have believed her claims about election fraud and she is therefore not liable.
As Breitbart News noted in January, Dominion sued Powell for $1.3 billion in damages after she claimed publicly on several occasions that the company was connected with voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election. As Breitbart News reported:
Powell had pursued a theory that Dominion voting machines, operating with Smartmatic software, were manipulable and had been responsible for switching votes from Trump to Democratic challenger Joe Biden. She also alleged that Dominion had worked with foreign governments, including Venezuela, and produced an affidavit purporting to support that allegation.
She had not yet provided evidence that votes had actually been changed, however, and has faced increasing public criticism.
Though Powell had made those claims in arguing that then-President Donald Trump had won the election, the Trump legal team subsequently distanced itself from her and her claims. In their filing on her behalf, Powell’s attorneys use a familiar defense to defamation lawsuits, which is that statements of opinion are generally protected by the First Amendment.
“[N]o reasonable person would conclude that the statements [about Dominion] were truly statements of fact,” they argued.
Powell gained renown for her defense of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, whom Trump later pardoned.
Update: Powell’s legal team has responded to the controversy over their filing with a statement arguing that Powell stands by her former claims, which were meant as legal opinion in legal filings (original emphasis):
Yesterday, several news media outlets cut and paste out of context portions of our motion to dismiss the Dominion complaint to “spin” a message that the election fraud allegations that Ms. Powell presented to various courts and to the public were not credible. I’d like to clarify what actually was presented to the court. First, let me be clear: any suggestion that “no reasonable person” would believe Ms. Powell or her comments on the election is false. The language these reports referred to is a legal standard adopted by the courts to determine whether statements qualify as opinions which are exempt from defamation liability.
As the DC Circuit reaffirmed just last week, there is no claim for defamation when the alleged “defamatory” statement is a legal opinion. Ms. Powell’s statements fall precisely into this category. Ms. Powell reviewed sworn affidavits, declarations, expert testimony, and other highly corroborated evidence concerning the election which Ms. Powell filed with the courts and shared publicly. She continues to stand by those opinions today. Our motion, in part, argues that the Dominion case should be dismissed because legal opinions are not grounds for defamation.
Read the full statement here.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.