Conservative activist and former Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin played a key role in launching conspiracy theories about Dominion Voting Systems into the mainstream, where they became the basis of Donald Trump's "big lie" about his election loss, according to a new lawsuit.
Court documents from a defamation lawsuit filed by former Dominion election security officer Eric Coomer against Malkin, the Trump campaign, conservative media outlets One America News and Newsmax, and nearly a dozen other parties show that Malkin first highlighted false claims about vote-switching on her YouTube channel.
"Well, of course, we listened to Michelle Malkin's interview of Joe Oltmann when it came to be -- the Eric Coomer portion of our piece," testified OAN reporter Chanel Rion, who was also named as a defendant in the suit. "So they -- they ended up landing on our radar around the time that Michelle Malkin did her interview on Nov. 13 or so."
Malkin live-streamed her interview with Oltmann on Nov. 13, 2020, six days after major news organizations projected Joe Biden as the winner, and the Colorado businessman claimed to have months earlier infiltrated a conference call where Coomer allegedly assured members of "antifa" that he would ensure Trump would lose the election.
"I knew that he had been discussing Dominion Voting Systems, which is based here in Colorado, as a story of local interest," Malkin testified during her own deposition, "and because of everything that had happened post-election, I wanted to give him a platform to tell my audience exactly what he knew about it and why Eric Coomer's role might be of concern. I didn't know exactly what he was going to tell me, because after I had followed him on Twitter the day before, his account was deleted -- or rather -- let me amend that. He had been suspended from Twitter, permanently suspended."
Malkin was soon contacted by Lauren McLaughlin, a producer for Fox News host Sean Hannity's radio program, asking to be put in touch with Oltmann so he could provide a signed affidavit of his claims against Coomer and use them in a federal complaint, and she helped them exchange contact information.
"What I knew about how he came on to the phone call, what he was doing there, what he discovered, and why he realized it was important only became clear to me as we were doing the interview," testified Malkin, who admitted she did not ask Oltmann whether he recorded the conference call. "That was the reason for doing the interview in the first place."
Malkin said during the deposition that she did not consider whether Coomer was a public or private figure, but she invited Oltmann to make claims about him that she had not independently verified as part of her broader effort to raise questions about election integrity.
"I think the context of the series of live streams that I had done, which my many viewers on YouTube and Twitter and Facebook had followed, understood that it was a bigger picture, an entire umbrella of election integrity irregularities and concerns that spelled the stealing of an election, yes," Malkin testified. "I believe that they understood when I prefaced my remarks that that's what I was talking about."
Coomer's attorney Charlie Cain pressed her further and asked whether she had personally vetted Oltmann's claims, but she agreed that she had seen only screenshots of anti-Trump posts the Dominion employee had posted on Facebook before allowing Oltmann to accuse Coomer of rigging the presidential election.
"So I had in my possession the Facebook posts," Malkin said. "Certainly knowing who Joe Oltmann was and that he had been covering concerns about Dominion, I think it was fair to conclude that he was going to raise red flags about Eric Coomer's role as an executive in that company, which, as I said in my prefatory remarks, had been in the headlines and was of concern to my audience."
At that point in the deposition, Malkin's attorney Gordon Queenan apologized and said his Zoom connection had crashed about three minutes earlier, and Cain informed him that he had missed a crucial piece of evidence.
"She just confessed to the crime," Cain quipped.
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