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Dominion's 2020 election lawsuit against Newsmax to move forward, judge rules

ABC News logo ABC News 6/17/2022
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As the Jan. 6 committee continues to lay out its evidence surrounding the effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election, a federal judge on Thursday ruled that a defamation lawsuit filed by Dominion -- a voting machine company at the heart of a number of "Big Lie" conspiracy theories -- against far-right news outlet Newsmax is allowed to proceed.

Judge Eric M. Davis denied Newsmax's motion to dismiss the $1.6 billion civil suit. In the original complaint filed in August, Dominion said Newsmax "helped create and cultivate an alternate reality where up is down, pigs have wings, and Dominion engaged in a colossal fraud to steal the presidency from Donald Trump by rigging the vote."

At the first Jan. 6 hearing last week, former Attorney General Bill Barr said the baseless allegations that Dominion machines switched votes from Joe Biden to Trump were "complete nonsense" and "amongst the most disturbing."

MORE: Dominion Voting Systems hits conservative networks, Trump ally with $1.6 billion defamation suits

"I told them it was crazy stuff and they were wasting their time on it, and they were doing a great disservice to the country," Barr said of the Dominion conspiracy theories, which were consistently pushed by Trump and his allies. "I saw absolutely zero basis for the allegations, but they were made in such a sensational way that they obviously were influencing a lot of people."

Dominion has filed a number of defamation suits against those it says helped pushed the false accusations that it helped rig the 2020 election, including Rudy Giuliani and Fox News. Last year, a judge similarly denied requests from Giuliani, attorney Sidney Powell, and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell to throw out the Dominion suits against them.

Dominion, in its complaint against Newsmax, alleged that Newsmax "manufactured, endorsed, repeated, and broadcast a series of verifiably false yet devastating lies about Dominion."

In a statement responding to the ruling, a Newsmax spokesperson said they were "not surprised by the judge's decision as this was a preliminary motion and he made a very similar ruling in the Fox News case," then went on to defend its coverage of the 2020 election.

Dominion voting machines in the basement at the election offices Rome, Ga., Jan. 18, 2022. © The Washington Post via Getty Images Dominion voting machines in the basement at the election offices Rome, Ga., Jan. 18, 2022.

"Newsmax reported on both sides in the election dispute without making any claim about the results other than saying they were 'legal and final,'" the statement said. "We are confident that Newsmax will ultimately prevail given the strong First Amendment protections provided to ensure free speech and a free press."

Last year, Newsmax retracted some its reporting surrounding the 2020 election as part of a settlement after it was sued by a Dominion employee in a separate suit.

Referring to allegations that Dominion had schemed to rig the election in favor of Biden, the network reported that it "subsequently found no evidence that such allegations were true."

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