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Fake News re Dominion vs Sidney Powell

In early January, Dominion Voting Systems brought a defamation suit against Sidney Powell for $1.3B. It’s a stupid move, but I’ll come back to that later.


A few days ago, lamestream media reported that Ms Powell’s lawyers filed a motion to dismiss the case. That part is true. However, what was circulated as the argument to dismiss the case was… interesting. It was something along the lines of because “reasonable people would not accept such statements as fact.”


I am no legal expert but, taken as is, that is obviously stupid. It’s as if Powell is trying to have it both ways, to expect the courts to believe her claims against Dominion, but not expect anyone to believe her for the purposes of denying the defamation suit. At first, I thought it was a deliberately stupid argument just to troll Dominion for their stupid move. To me, that would have been funny in a way.


But wait, hang on. Maybe it’s fake news. Powell has a statement regarding this on her website at www.sidneypowell.com. Either way, it actually helps to read the 54-page motion from her lawyers.


There are multiple reasons to dismiss, but more pertinent to the fake news is what is considered as defamation and what is “actionable”. There are a number of considerations regarding that which the document outlines but I will focus on one simple, fundamental point. From p. 22–23:


Of particular importance in evaluating the actionability of a statement is whether the underlying facts on which it is based have been disclosed.
This makes sense, because “when a defendant provides the facts underlying the challenged statements, it is ‘clear that the challenged statements represent his own interpretation of those facts,’ which ‘leav[es] the reader free to draw his own conclusions.’” … “When ‘the bases for … the conclusion are fully disclosed, no reasonable reader would consider the term anything but the opinion of the author drawn from the circumstances related.’” (“Because the reader understands that such supported opinions represent the writer’s interpretation of the facts presented, and because the reader is free to draw his or her own conclusions based upon those facts, this type of statement is not actionable in defamation.”)

As I interpret it, there is an important distinction here. Consider the below two sentences.


A: “Rob is a frigging thief.”

B: “Rob is a frigging thief because of X, Y and Z.”


Statement A is possibly defamation. The first part of statement B (that is, the clause “Rob is a frigging thief”) is not vewy nice but reasons X, Y and Z have been provided. Any reasonable person will understand said clause as the speaker’s own conclusion or claim or description expressed in their own way (rather than as a “fact” stated in isolation) based on X, Y and Z which anyone can examine and subsequently make their own conclusions.


In this case, Powell’s challenged statements, even if they are not vewy nice, are… well, so what? And being not nice is not necessarily malicious intent, also a condition of defamation. She is speaking as a lawyer on the matter and the court filings that present the evidence (the X, Y and Z) for the alleged voter fraud is freely available to be downloaded and read at defendingtherepublic.org.


As mentioned earlier, there are other considerations; for example, the election is a public matter, Dominion is in effect a public figure, and the “…Plaintiffs themselves characterize the statements at issue as ‘wild accusations’ and ‘outlandish claims’.” (p. 32) To turn this around, if the plaintiff thinks the challenged statements are “wild” and “outlandish”—that is, arguably implying difficult to believe—then can it be defamation? It is arguable, of course.


Ultimately, this whole exercise is silly. Dominion is obviously bluffing. It’s like someone had a fit and randomly whipped out a large number. I don’t know Ms Powell but I doubt she has $1.3B to pay anyway, and I don’t get the impression she is scared of a comically large number. I don’t know how they will go about it if this case is to go forward, but I am guessing the X, Y and Z will have to be examined at some stage (which is supposed to happen anyway). What we already know is already damning. To take an even closer look at the evidence and at Dominion will be very bad for them. “Hey guys, if you can’t steal something properly, then at least keep your mouths shut.”

 

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