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Saturday, December 9, 2023
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Fox News can’t compel discovery from George Soros in Smartmatic defamation suit

The decadeslong friendship between the billionaire investor and philanthropist and Smartmatic's former chairman is irrelevant to the voting company's lawsuit against Fox News, a New York judge ruled.

MANHATTAN (CN) — A New York state judge on Monday said George Soros does not have to turn over documents to Fox News in the lawsuit by voting technology company Smartmatic that accuses the network of stoking far-right conspiracy theories that the company rigged the 2020 election against Donald Trump.  

Fox asked New York Supreme Justice David Cohen to compel the billionaire Soros, his son Alex Soros and Open Society Foundations, his philanthropy organization, to turn over documents related to Smartmatic because of the Soros family’s relationship with former Smartmatic Chairman Mark Malloch-Brown. The Soros family and Open Society Foundations are not named in Smartmatic’s lawsuit.

Judge Cohen denied the motion at a hearing Monday, saying Soros’ attorney Benjamin McCallen proved the Soros family wasn’t relevant in this case.

Fox in its motion to compel highlighted that while Malloch-Brown was Smartmatic's chairman, he was an Open Society board member. He has been friends with Soros for decades.

“Malloch-Brown’s simultaneous leadership to both Smartmatic and Open Society is the beginning, not the end, of Smartmatic’s connection to Soros,” Fox wrote.

At the heart of Smartmatic's case are accusations on Fox News shows by former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Trump attorney Sidney Powell, who are both named in the complaint, that Smartmatic rigged the election.

“Smartmatic in this litigation has not, to date, conceded that Smartmatic was biased, was influenced by Soros and was obligated to Soros, which are the clear implications of the statements made by Mr. Giuliani and Ms. Powell,” said Aaron Marks, an attorney for Fox, during Monday's hearing.

But McCallen insisted the central issue was whether or not Smartmatic rigged the election, not any influence by Soros. He pointed to a 2020 taping of Lou Dobbs Tonight in which Powell said, “there are George Soros connections to the entire endeavor.” According to McCallen, “the entire endeavor” is a reference the election allegations — not Soros’ relationship with Malloch-Brown.

“There’s, at best, some peripheral relevance of these complaints but as you dig into the statements you see what’s actually being talked about is this quote-on-quote endeavor to rig the election.” McCallen said.

Giuliani and Powell were both named in the Georgia racketeering indictment brought by state prosecutors over Trump and his allies' efforts to interfere with the 2020 presidential election. Powell on Oct. 19 pleaded guilty to six misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to commit intentional interference with performance of election duties. Giuliani pleaded not guilty on Sept. 1.

In April, Fox News paid Dominion Voting Systems $800 settled brought by Dominion Voting Systems for nearly $800 million to avert a trial in the voting machine company’s lawsuit over false claims in coverage of the 2020 election. Smartmatic is seeking $2.7 billion in damages, more than three times that amount.

Separately on Monday, Judge Cohen denied Smartmatic’s motion to extend its own discovery deadline.

According to Jamie Ward, an attorney for Smartmatic, Fox News keeps submitting additional document requests, which makes it difficult to certify the job is done. Cohen wasn't persuaded.

“You’re a very talented lawyer, you work with a lot of talented lawyers,” the judge said to Ward. “I have no doubt you’ll be able to fashion your response.”

Follow @NikaSchoonover
Categories / Courts, Media, Politics

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