Rudy Cashed In on ‘The Big Lie’ From Donald Trump, and Now the Bill May Finally Be Coming Due
The president’s lawyer never did get his $20,000 a day. But he could be on the hook for exponentially more now that Dominion Voting Systems is suing him for defamation.
Monday, Jan. 25, just might be remembered as the beginning of the end for wild right-wing disinformation—the day that Trumpists finally started paying a price for spreading lies that they knew to be lies.
And not just any price, but 1.3 billion-with-a-b dollars. That’s what Dominion Voting Systems is demanding in a defamation lawsuit (PDF) against Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, for his alleged role in spreading “the Big Lie” about election theft.
I’m sure that Rudy, who says that he’s a crazy guy and that he’ll be countersuing since the suit by America’s second largest voting equipment maker is just “another act of intimidation by the hate-filled left-wing to wipe out and censor the exercise of free speech, as well as the ability of lawyers to defend their clients vigorously,” has that kind of money lying around. After all, he was paid so handsomely by the Trump campaign. Just kidding!
Dominion’s allegation is simple: "Just as Giuliani and his allies intended, the Big Lie went viral on social media as people tweeted, retweeted, and raged that Dominion had stolen their votes. While some lies — little lies — flare up on social media and die with the next news cycle, the Big Lie was different.” The suit’s 107 pages are filled with example after example of Rudy being Rudy and maligning Dominion in the process, undeterred by legal letters, underlying facts or anything else.
The suit includes this incredible sentence, about how “Dominion was not founded in Venezuela to fix elections for Hugo Chávez. It was founded in 2002 in John Poulos’s basement in Toronto to help blind people vote on paper ballots.” Nonetheless, Giuliani went on Maria Bartiromo’s show to declare that Dominion “was founded by Chávez and by Chávez’s two allies who still own it,” that “it’s really being run by people that are close to Maduro and Chávez,” and that the company “has tried and true methods for fixing elections,” and that Dominion “notifies” election officials when they are too far behind so they can add in fake ballots.”
Giuliani, the suit notes, avoided making these sorts of wild claims in court filings but made them in endless media appearances, including his own shows where he’d sell other products against those claims, medicine-shop style. The suit notes that he “reportedly demanded $20,000 per day” for representing Trump, only to get stiffed, but he nonetheless “cashed in by hosting a podcast where he exploited election falsehoods to market gold coins, supplements, cigars and protection from ‘cyberthieves.’” And the suit includes hilarious screen grabs of Giuliani peddling these products, telling listeners to tell them Rudy sent you and use the code “RUDY” to get special deals.
The Giuliani suit came after the company had sent two warning letters to him, and, they say, he continued to spread misinformation. After a letter to Mike “My Pillow” Lindell warning him that litigation is "imminent," and letters to Lin Wood, Rush Limbaugh, Newsmax, OAN, the Epoch Times, Fox News and Fox hosts Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs and Sean Hannity telling them to stop spreading lies.
Hannity and Dobbs, not so incidentally, were the two hosts who were about to be deposed in the defamation suit filed by the family of Seth Rich before the network paid up to settle it less than a month before the election but with the highly unusual provision that it couldn’t be disclosed until afterward.
And the Giuliani suit came after right-wing website The American Thinker, which posted dozens of phony pieces about Dominion, abruptly put up a note saying those reports “are completely false and have no basis in fact” and that “it was wrong for us to publish these false statements.”
After the company filed a $1.3 billion suit against Giuliani’s former “strike force” partner, “Kraken” Sidney Powell, alleging that she, too, rode “the big lie” to right wing media fame: “Emboldened by Trump's endorsement of her false accusations, which launched her into political superstardom, Powell's defamatory media campaign continued and intensified.”
The founder of Dominion pointed to a larger, more important theme for these lawsuits in a statement: “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. The thousands of hand recounts and audits that proved machines counted accurately continue to be overshadowed by disinformation.”
From Hillary Clinton’s health to Joe Biden’s mental state, Trump and his boosters in the far-right media have spread lies for years with no consequences. But now there’s a real chance that Rudy is just a warm-up act for the big legal show to come.
“We’re not ruling anybody out,” the company’s lawyer said on Monday. “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.”
And if there’s one thing we know for sure that Trump doesn’t like, it’s paying other people money.