The expansive array of litigation related to lies about the 2020 presidential election and non-existent fraud that Trump and numerous goons of his claimed altered the outcome is continuing.
Now, U.S. District Judge Louis L. Stanton in Manhattan is allowing a defamation case from Venezuelan businessman Majed Khalil to move into the discovery phase and towards trial. Khalil’s case names former Fox host Lou Dobbs along with Fox News and its parent company, Fox Corporation, where the Murdochs serve in leadership roles. As outlined in Khalil’s lawsuit, a segment on Dobbs’s prior Fox show in late 2020 featured false claims, pushed by the host and Sidney Powell, the plaintiff was involved in developing technological methods with which the 2020 election was fraudulently altered.
“You say these four individuals led the effort to rig this election. How did they do it?” Dobbs asked Powell during the December episode, referring to a group including Khalil. Their supposed work included having “designed and developed the Smartmatic and Dominion programs and machines that include a controller module that allows people to log in and manipulate the vote even as it’s happening,” she said. Business-wise, Smartmatic and Dominion are unaffiliated, Smartmatic was only involved at a very minor level with the handling of the 2020 elections across the U.S., Khalil said in his lawsuit he actually has no business ties to either company, and despite his characterization as a political figure in a doc that went up on an official Dobbs Twitter account, he is not a politician. That document also accused Khalil of being “a liaison with Hezbollah,” which again is strange nonsense.
More broadly, there is still no real-world evidence Smartmatic or Dominion equipment was used in any way to systematically meddle with the course of the 2020 elections across the U.S. The original claims about Khalil didn’t stop with alleging a broad connection to the imaginary Smartmatic and Dominion operation — the document on Dobbs’s Twitter account, which mirrored the allegations discussed hours later between Dobbs and Powell on television, claimed Khalil was “a Venezuelan of Lebanese origin, who is the right hand and business front man of Jorge Rodriguez. He has been the effective ‘COO’ of the election project, under Chávez and Maduro.” The claim was that someone without business ties to the company was effectively a COO! Khalil also contested the specific claims about his connections to Rodriguez. And they didn’t use restrained language in originally promoting these delusions. On Fox, Dobbs pushed the idea of a “Pearl Harbor style cyber attack on the 2020 Presidential election.”
Legal representation for both Fox and Dobbs, whose show was abruptly announced as cancelled after Smartmatic filed a company defamation lawsuit against Fox, both sought the dismissal of Khalil’s lawsuit, but the judge broadly established that Khalil supported his claims to a sufficient extent for the proceedings to continue. Among other points, Powell was — according to experts — untrustworthy, although she still appeared on Fox anyway, with official promotion of her comments connected to Dobbs’s show. “Numerous reports that declared the falsity of the claims against Dominion and Smartmatic and rejected Powell as an accurate source of information gave Defendants reasons to doubt Powell’s veracity and the accuracy of her reports,” the judge noted. These observations support the notion Fox and Dobbs could be found liable.
The judge also rejected claims made by Fox trying to distance itself from the challenged statements, noting company control of official social media profiles associated with Dobbs’s show, where false accusations about Khalil were posted.