Washington — Lawyers for conservative attorney Sidney Powell told a federal court on Monday that "no reasonable person" would conclude her unfounded claims of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election were statements of fact as she fights a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems.
In a filing with the federal district court in the District of Columbia, Powell argued Dominion's case against her should be dismissed, as "it was clear to reasonable persons" her statements were her own opinions and legal theories. Members of the public, she said, were free to reach their own conclusions about whether Dominion rigged the election against former President Donald Trump, as Powell repeatedly claimed.
"Determining whether a statement is protected involves a two-step inquiry: Is the statement one which can be proved true or false? And would reasonable people conclude that the statement is one of fact, in light of its phrasing, context and the circumstances surrounding its publication," her lawyers told the court. "Analyzed under these factors, and even assuming, arguendo, that each of the statements alleged in the complaint could be proved true or false, no reasonable person would conclude that the statements were truly statements of fact."
Powell further argued her statements are constitutionally protected, in part because they were made in the context of a bitter political debate, and political statements are prone to exaggeration and hyperbole.
The 2020 presidential race, her lawyers said, "was both bitter and controversial," and Powell made her statements "as an attorney-advocate for her preferred candidate and in support of her legal and political positions."
"Such characterizations of the allegedly defamatory statements further support defendants' position that reasonable people would not accept such statements as fact but view them only as claims that await testing by the courts through the adversary process," she argued, adding "the speech at issue here is not actionable."
In addition to asking the court to dismiss the case, Powell argued the suit shouldn't have been brought in the District of Columbia, but rather the Northern District of Texas, as she resides in Dallas. If the court decides not to toss out the suit, Powell called for it to be moved to Texas.
Dominion, which provides electronic voting machines and software to governments and the U.S. and worldwide, filed its defamation lawsuit against Powell in January and is seeking $1.3 billion in damages. Powell spread conspiracy theories in the wake of the November election that Dominion was involved in a wide-ranging scheme to rig the presidential election, claims that were amplified by Mr. Trump as he unsuccessfully fought to secure a second term in office.
Dominion argued Powell caused the company "unprecedented harm" through her repeated allegations it bribed officials, colluded against Mr. Trump and flipped votes cast for the former president to boost President Biden. Its employees, Dominion argued, were the subject of harassment and threats as Powell's accusations spread among far-right conspiracy theorists.
In addition to Powell, Dominion has filed defamation lawsuits against MyPillow founder and CEO Mike Lindell and Mr. Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who also spread unfounded accusations of voter fraud and claimed the company rigged the election.