In an attempt to defend his clients, one of the lead attorneys representing Fox against the $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems highlighted an exchange between Donald Trump and Fox host Maria Bartiromo in late November 2020 that could be used to make the case that the former president did what the conservative network is accused of doing.
In an interview with National Review's Jim Geraghty, attorney and former solicitor general Paul Clement attempted to make the case that Fox News hosts were only offering opinions and not making statements of fact about the 2020 election results.
According to Clement, comments made by former Fox host Lou Dobbs — echoing statements made by Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell — came the closest to defamation but still not enough to support the lawsuit.
“A lot of [Dobbs’] statements that come the closest to supporting what Giuliani or Powell said, those statements themselves are protected opinion,” Clement told the National Review writer. “The broader nature of the Lou Dobbs show is important context for trying to figure out whether that’s opinion or not. . . . These are the statements that come closest to pure opinion, which is independently protected under the First Amendment.”
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In a further attempt to make his case, the attorney cited Trump's first major interview after the election with the network's Bartiromo and the fact that Dominion did not cite it in its voluminous legal filing.
According to the report, "Clement contends that there’s a curious omission from the Dominion lawsuits against Fox News: Maria Bartiromo’s interview with Donald Trump November 29, 2020."
At that time, the former president ranted to an equally outraged Bartiromo, "You have leaders of countries that call me, say, that’s the most messed-up election we have ever seen. You start with these machines that have been suspect, not allowed to be used in Texas, the Dominion machines, where tremendous reports have been put out. We have affidavits on — from many people talking about what went on with machines."
He then added, "They had glitches. You know what a glitch is. That’s — a glitch is supposed to be when a machine breaks down. Well, no, we had glitches where they moved thousands of votes from my account to Biden’s account. So, they’re not glitches. They’re theft. They’re fraud, absolute fraud. And there were many of them, but, obviously, most of them tremendous amounts, got by without us catching."
According to Geraghty, "If any statement after the election qualifies as defamation of Dominion, Trump’s would be it. But it’s not cited in the Dominion suit, likely because no one in their right mind would dispute that the fact that the sitting president was making such claims was legitimate news."
Clement added, "If you take a step back and think what statements and by whom would have most moved the needle on people’s perceptions of Dominion, it has to be President Trump saying it moves the needle more than Sidney Powell saying it."
You can read the entire interview here.