“The defendants in today’s filings recklessly disregarded the truth when they spread lies in November and continue to do so today,” Dominion CEO John Poulos said in a statement. “This barrage of lies by the defendants and others have caused — and continue to cause — severe damage to our company, customers, and employees. We have no choice but to seek to hold those responsible to account.”
It is the latest round of legal actions over Trump’s claims that he was cheated out of the presidency, which were disseminated on conservative media despite being uniformly rejected by U.S. courts.
In March, Dominion filed a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News. Another voting technology company targeted by the former president’s allies, Smartmatic, sued Fox News and several of the network’s commentators in February for $2.7 billion. Fox has filed numerous motions to have the lawsuits dismissed, arguing in part that its coverage is protected by the First Amendment.
On Tuesday, a spokesman for Newsmax invoked freedom of the press in response to the lawsuit.
“While Newsmax has not reviewed the Dominion filing, in its coverage of the 2020 Presidential elections, Newsmax simply reported on allegations made by well-known public figures, including the President, his advisers and members of Congress,” Newsmax senior vice president of communications Brian Peterson wrote in an email. “Dominion’s action today is a clear attempt to squelch such reporting and undermine a free press.”
Newxmax and OAN have tried to outflank Fox News on the right, and Dominion claims that the networks aired and endorsed the false election claims to court Trump and boost ratings.
Dominion’s complaint against OAN’s parent company, Herring Networks, also names its founder, Robert Herring, and his son, president Charles Herring, as well as on-air personalities Chanel Rion and Christina Bobb. The network did not immediately return The Washington Post’s inquiry.
When asked about the lawsuit, Byrne said Dominion is “trying to divert attention” from the forthcoming results of the Republican-led ballot review in Maricopa County, Ariz., and an event being held this week by MyPillow chief executive Mike Lindell, whom Dominion has also sued for defamation over election fraud claims. “Dominion knows they are in for a tough week,” Byrne said. He also said Dominion’s lawsuit contained factual errors about his activities.
Byrne has advised Trump on overturning the election results. Dominion’s lawsuit alleges that Byrne bankrolled and promoted a viral disinformation campaign against Dominion. He is also helping to fund the ballot review in Arizona, for which OAN’s Bobb has also been publicly fundraising.
Dominion filed the lawsuits against Byrne and OAN’s parent company in a federal court in D.C. The company filed its lawsuit against Newsmax in Delaware.
Paul Farhi and Emma Brown contributed to this report, which has been updated with Byrne’s response to the lawsuit.