The lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems comes weeks after a similar case against ex-Trump attorney Sidney Powell.
WASHINGTON (CN) — A voting machine company filed a $1.3 billion lawsuit Monday against Rudy Giuliani, saying the personal attorney to former President Donald Trump defamed it through the “big lie” campaign that denied the results of the 2020 election.
Represented by Thomas Clare of Clare Locke in Alexandria, Virginia, Dominion Voting Systems has brought a 107-page federal complaint in Washington that says the lies of widespread voter fraud spread by the former New York City mayor culminated in the storming of the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, an insurrection led by a pro-Trump mob convinced the election had been stolen.
“Having been deceived by Giuliani and his allies into thinking that they were not criminals — but patriots ‘Defend[ing] the Republic’ from Dominion and its co-conspirators — they then bragged about their involvement in the crime on social media,” the suit states.
At the rally before the riot, the suit notes, “Trump foreseeably repeated the lies that Giuliani and his allies had told him, stating ‘there’s theft involved … we will stop the steal.’”
As the crowd chanted, “Fight for Trump,” the president congratulated Giuliani on “a great job” and said that “if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election. … All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify, and we become president.”
Dominion says its reputation of its company has been harmed in the crossfire of the Trump campaign’s 2020 election fraud claims. It is the second-largest manufacturer of voting machine equipment in the country, behind Election Systems & Software. Giuliani’s lawyer, Robert Costello of DHC Legal, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the suit Monday, nor did Dominion’s lawyer Clare.
Chock full of screenshots of statements Giuliani made on Twitter and screenshots of his podcast “Common Sense” as well as his appearances on conservative news media outlets, the lawsuit describes how the Trump campaign’s lies gained traction on social media.
“Over a three-hour period on December 21, 2020, the terms ‘dominion’ and ‘fraud’ were tweeted out together by more than 2,200 users with over 8.75 million total followers,” the suit says.
The lawsuit is also built around statements Giuliani made at legislative hearings when filing election fraud claims. “Notably, not a single one of the three complaints signed and filed by Giuliani and other attorneys for the Trump campaign in the Pennsylvania action contained any allegations about Dominion,” the lawsuit says, “because he knew those allegations are false” and could have brought legal ramifications for him.
Dominion adds that, at a Pennsylvania hearing, Giuliani even admitted that the Trump campaign “doesn’t plead fraud” and that “this is not a fraud case.”
John Poulos, the chief executive officer of Dominion, told The New York Times Monday that the suit against Giuliani aimed both to restore public faith in Dominion and trust in American elections.
“Not only have these lies damaged the good name of my company, but they also undermined trust in American democratic institutions, drowning out the remarkable work of elections officials and workers, who ensured a transparent and secure election,” Poulos told the Times. “The thousands of hand recounts and audits that proved machines counted accurately continue to be overshadowed by disinformation.”
The suit also accuses Giuliani of using the campaign to personally enrich himself.
“Giuliani reportedly demanded $20,000 per day for that Big Lie,” the complaint states, noting he also used his notoriety to create a podcast “where he exploited election falsehoods to market gold coins, supplements, cigars, and protection from ‘cyberthieves.’” The suit includes a screenshotted photo of Giuliani pushing a cigar deal — $20 off orders over $100 — after repeating claims that the election had been fixed by a Venezuelan company.
Venezuela has factored rather bizarrely into the conspiracy theories advanced by pro-Trump extremists in the months since Republicans lost the 2020 presidential election. Giuliani, alongside others on Trump’s campaign team, have claimed falsely that the voting machine company was created in Venezuela to rig elections for the country’s late dictator Hugo Chávez.
“Giuliani … has not explained how — if Dominion were actually controlled by the associates of a Venezuelan dictator — it was permitted to operate in the United States by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States,” the suit notes. “Nor has Giuliani explained how — if Dominion were willing and able to commit a massive fraud to deprive Trump of the presidency — Trump won the presidential election in 2016, when Dominion machines were used in 1,635 jurisdictions in more than two dozen ‘red’ and ‘blue’ states.”
Dominion sent Giuliani a letter in late December warning that the company planned to take legal action against him for his false statements. Giuliani doubled down, however, continuing to tweet and talk on radio shows about needing to “re-r[u]n the vote” because of “phony Dominion voting machines.”
Dominion’s suit against Giuliani mirrors a $1.3 billion suit filed earlier this month against former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, who also made outlandish election fraud claims. Clare, Dominion’s lawyer, told The New York Times on Monday that the company has not ruled out litigation against Trump himself.
“Obviously, this lawsuit against the president’s lawyer moves one step closer to the former president and understanding what his role was and wasn’t,” Clare told the Times.
Giuliani has not taken accountability for the insurrection, instead blaming the police, “antifa” and the mayor of Washington, D.C. On a radio show last week, Giuliani repeated his claims that he was being wrongly attacked for “exercising my right of free speech and defending my client.” House leaders, having impeached Trump a second time, will transfer the new article against Trump to the Senate on Monday.
Giuliani and Powell are also named as defendants in a separate lawsuit by Dominion employee Eric Coomer, who claims that the false claims spread by Trump’s campaign drove him into hiding. Dominion has said it has invested over half a million dollars on security for its employees since the election and to have incurred $1.17 million in total expenses relating to the Trump campaign’s false election fraud claims.
Earlier in January, the New York State Bar Association announced it is investigating whether to revoke Giuliani’s law license stemming from his representation of Trump and perpetuation of election fraud claims. Lawyers Defending American Democracy also filed a complaint last week asking the same.
President Joe Biden won the 2020 election in November with more than 80 million votes. Numerous federal officials — including Trump’s attorney general, Bill Barr — have said that there’s no evidence of election fraud. By and large, the various legal challenges filed by Trump and his allies have been dismissed in court for lack of evidence.