A federal judge cleared the way Wednesday for a defamation case by Dominion Voting Systems to proceed against Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani, and Mike Lindell, allies of former President Trump who had all falsely accused the company of rigging the 2020 presidential election. US District Judge Carl Nichols ruled that there was no blanket protection on political speech and denied an argument from two of the defendants that the federal court in Washington wasn't the proper venue for the case, the AP reports. “As an initial matter, there is no blanket immunity for statements that are 'political’ in nature,” the judge wrote in the 44-page ruling. While courts have recognized there are some hyperbolic statements in political discourse, “it is simply not the law that provably false statements cannot be actionable if made in the context of an election,” Nichols wrote.
The judge also rejected Powell and Lindell’s arguments that Dominion had failed to meet a legal burden that their statements were made with “actual malice.” He outlined several instances where the trio made outlandish and blatantly false claims, including when Powell stated that the company was created in Venezuela to rig elections for the late leader Hugo Chavez and that it can switch votes. Dominion has sought $1.3 billion in damages from the trio. Nichols said "a reasonable juror could conclude that [Powell made] either statements of fact or statements of opinion that implied or relied upon facts that are provably false," and issued a similar statement against Lindell. The judge’s ruling came just a day after the vote-counting machine maker filed defamation lawsuits against right-wing broadcasters Newsmax Media Inc. and One America News Network, as well as Patrick Byrne, a prominent Trump ally and former chief executive of Overstock.com.
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