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Dominion director asks Denver judge to preserve Trump defamation suit against anti-SLAPP claims

A Dominion employee sued 15 actors who falsely reported he tried to rig the 2020 election.

DENVER (CN) — A Denver judge was asked on Thursday to follow the trail of misinformation that led an unwitting employee at a voting machine company to become the target of conspiracy theorists who believed the 2020 election was rigged.

Following the 2020 election, podcaster Joseph Oltmann claimed he heard a man identified as “Eric from Dominion” say on a call that he was going to make sure Trump lost. Based on Internet research, Oltmann said he concluded the caller was Eric Coomer, a director of product strategy and security at Dominion Voting Systems in Denver.

The spark caught and spread like wildfire after the election, as it was picked up by the OAN network, and repeated by the Trump campaign, and attorneys Rudi Giuliani and Sidney Powell.

In his 2020 lawsuit, Coomer identified more than a dozen individuals and companies that collectively made him the villain in the narrative of unbased claims of election fraud.

In asking for the case to be dismissed under the state’s anti-SLAPP law, several defendants agued that they reported the information they had at the time and did not doubt Oltmann’s account.

“All of the media defendants chose to rely on Mr. Oltmann as their sole source when there were ample sources they could have referred to before they ruined Mr. Coomer’s life,” argued attorney Charles Cain on behalf of Coomer.

Threats and harassment resulting from the false narrative drove Coomer into hiding, according to his attorneys.

“The media defendants crossed the line and avoided the truth and other sources to support their preconceived narrative,” Cain said, referring to the media outlets that circulated the allegations.

Cain pointed out that none of the news networks that ran the story looked for other sources to corroborate Oltmann, not did they request his notes or contact anyone else who was on the alleged call.

Based on broadcast interviews of Oltmann and testimony given during deposition, Cain claimed media outlets like OAN and the Gateway Pundit manipulated information about Coomer falsely implying that his position at Dominion gave him the ability to alter the election results.

“We never reported Dr. Coomer rigged the election,” said attorney Blaine Kimrey, on behalf of Herrington News, which owns OAN. “We reported that Joseph Oltmann said he was on a call where he heard Dr. Coomer say he rigged the election, and not even Dr. Coomer could debunk that, because if he wasn’t on the call, then he doesn’t know what was said.”

“We can quibble about whether it was false, but it was not stated with malice or a reckless disregard of the truth,” Kimrey said in closing.

Attorney Steve Skarnulis echoed similar allegations against what he described as political defendants including Donald J. Trump for President Inc.. In the weeks following the election, Skarnulis said the Trump campaign collected evidence questioning the election results, then disseminated it through social media, formal interviews, and a press conference without first investigating the validity.

“The Trump Campaign was putting out information alleging election fraud without vetting it and Eric Coomer got caught up in that,” Skarnulis said.

Asked why he didn’t investigate the validity of the allegations, Giuliani said in a deposition “I have a guy who hates the president and worked for a company accused of fixing votes, why wouldn’t I believe it?”

Barry Arrington, on behalf of attorney Sidney Powell, attempted to sow doubt by claiming he and his client believed Coomer was on the call Oltmann listened in on.

For the record, Cain declared and reiterated that Coomer was not on the group call Oltmann reported hearing.

While Giuliani claimed to be working 22-hour days in his deposition, Arrington echoed that Powell was working 20-hour days after the election and didn’t have time to fact check the news.

“This cannot be emphasized enough: she filed four lawsuits that had thousands of pages in them and she had to file them before statutory deadlines and she was working around the clock, so did she have the time to investigate all the elements? No,” Arrington said.

With 81 million votes, Joe Biden decidedly won 306 electoral votes and the 2020 election. The U.S. Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency declared the Nov. 3rd election "the most secure in American history."

Following two days of testimony, District Judge Marie Avery Moses, appointed by Gov. Jared Polis, will review evidence submitted by Coomer’s attorneys, as well as objections lodged by defendant parties.

“Frankly I feel like every First Amendment issue has been presented to me,” Moses said in closing. She did not indicate when or how she will decide the motions.

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