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Giuliani Faces Massive Defamation Suit Over His Baseless Claims About 2020 Election

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Rudy Giuliani, President Trump's personal attorney and the former mayor of New York, faces a massive defamation lawsuit for his baseless claims related to the election. From Colorado Public Radio, Bente Birkeland has more.

BENTE BIRKELAND, BYLINE: Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems is seeking $1.3 billion in damages. Tom Clare is an attorney for Dominion. He says Giuliani and others pushed a viral disinformation campaign that has destroyed the company's value and endangered its employees.

TOM CLARE: He knew from the outset, the complaint alleges, that there was no evidence that the election was rigged. And that's why even Mr. Giuliani didn't make those claims in court. But he made them on television and online, where they would do maximum damage to Dominion but face minimal scrutiny.

BIRKELAND: Dominion provides election equipment and software to 28 states, including swing states like Georgia. Giuliani has called the company strange and frightening. Here he is in mid-November in a Fox Business News interview.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT")

RUDY GIULIANI: So we're using a foreign company that is owned by Venezuelans who are close to - were close to Chavez, are now close to Maduro, and they are extremely hackable.

BIRKELAND: Dominion has no ownership ties to Venezuelan leadership. Earlier this month, the company filed a related suit against Sidney Powell, another lawyer who worked for the Trump campaign. But defamation cases require proof of actual malice, says Steve Zansberg, a First Amendment attorney in Denver who has represented the Colorado Broadcasters Association.

STEVE ZANSBERG: It means a knowing falsehood or a statement made with actual, serious subjective doubts as to the truth. And that has to be - that showing requires the plaintiff to prove that by clear and convincing evidence. It's a very high standard of care.

BIRKELAND: Dominion says more lawsuits are coming. It's not ruling out anyone, from Fox News personalities to Trump himself.

For NPR News, I'm Bente Birkeland in Denver.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE FLASHBULB'S "I CAN FEEL IT HUMMING") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Bente Birkeland has covered Colorado politics and government since spring of 2006. She loves the variety and challenge of the state capitol beat and talking to people from all walks of life. Bente's work has aired on NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered, American PublicMedia'sMarketplace, and she was a contributor for WNYC's The Next Big Thing. She has won numerous local and national awards, including best beat reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors. Bente grew up in Minnesota and England, and loves skiing, hiking, and is an aspiring cello player. She lives in Lakewood with her husband.
Bente Birkeland
Bente Birkeland has been reporting on state legislative issues for KUNC and Rocky Mountain Community Radio since 2006. Originally, from Minnesota, Bente likes to hike and ski in her spare time. She keeps track of state politics throughout the year but is especially busy during the annual legislative session from January through early May.

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