Dominion Voting Systems filed a defamation lawsuit Monday seeking more than $1.3 billion from Rudolph W. Giuliani, the lawyer for former president Donald Trump who played a key role in promoting the falsehood that the 2020 election was rigged.

The 107-page complaint, filed in federal court in D.C., cites dozens of statements Giuliani made about Dominion — on Twitter, in appearances on conservative media shows and on his own podcast — to promote the “false preconceived narrative” that the election was stolen from Trump.

That “Big Lie” not only damaged Dominion’s reputation and business and led to death threats against its employees, but also laid the groundwork for hundreds of people to storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, the complaint says. Five people died as a result of the attack, and dozens of law enforcement officials were injured.

In a speech just before the Capitol was stormed, Giuliani spoke of “crooked Dominion machines” that were used to steal the election and suggested that Trump supporters conduct “trial by combat.” Federal officials have charged more than 135 people in connection with the riot, and more are expected to be charged as the investigation continues.

“Having been deceived by Giuliani and his allies into thinking that they were not criminals — but patriots ‘Defend[ing] the Republic’ from Dominion and its co-conspirators — they then bragged about their involvement in the crime on social media,” the complaint says.

In a text message, Giuliani said he believed the case would give him an opportunity to prove his allegations about Dominion.

“The amount being asked for is, quite obviously, intended to frighten people of faint heart,” he wrote, calling it an effort to “wipe out and censor the exercise of free speech, as well as the ability of lawyers to defend their clients vigorously.” He said he would investigate a countersuit against Dominion “for violating these Constitutional rights.”

Thomas Clare, a lawyer representing Dominion, said during a news conference Monday that the company is eager for courts to hear and adjudicate its claims — and not only so it can win financial compensation. “It’s also important that this be done in public — that we have a trial on these issues, and that these false allegations are disproven once and for all for the American public to see so they can have faith in their election systems.”

Giuliani’s allegations about Dominion, repeated in lawsuits filed by lawyer Sidney Powell, have been rejected by courts in multiple states. And a statement released shortly after the election by the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said there was no evidence that any voting machines switched votes or were otherwise compromised. The statement called the 2020 election “the most secure in American history.”

Giuliani has said that Dominion “really is a Venezuelan company” and that it uses software originally created to help now-
deceased Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez fix elections. In fact, Dominion was founded in Toronto, in the basement of chief executive John Poulos, to “help blind people vote on paper ballots,” the complaint says.

Giuliani also repeatedly claimed that Dominion’s machines switched thousands of votes from Trump to Joe Biden, particularly in Antrim County, Mich. Michigan officials have said that the claim is false and have pointed to a hand count of ballots that affirmed Dominion machines had tabulated votes accurately.

Unlike Powell, Giuliani did not make these allegations in court, and in fact in one post-election case in Pennsylvania, he took pains to say that the Trump campaign “doesn’t plead fraud” and “this is not a fraud case.”

Clare said during the news conference Monday that Giuliani had instead made false statements in public and in the media, where “he knew they would do maximum damage to Dominion.”

Dominion’s lawsuit against Giuliani comes in the wake of a similar complaint it filed in the same court this month against Powell, also seeking more than $1.3 billion. Powell’s lawyer has said the lawsuit is an attempt to censor free speech.

Poulos said he was taking legal action to win vindication for himself and his company through a full and public airing of facts related to the 2020 election. “Not only have these lies damaged the good name of Dominion Voting, they have also undermined trust in American democratic institutions, drowning out the remarkable work of election officials and workers who ensured a transparent and secure election,” he said.

Giuliani and Powell persisted in making false statements even after they received retraction demands from Dominion’s lawyers, according to the complaints.

The two lawyers may be only the first of many to face lawsuits from Dominion. The company has sent retraction and preservation letters, often precursors to litigation, to more than 150 individuals and businesses, including conservative media outlets that amplified false claims of election fraud.

Asked whether Dominion plans to sue Trump, Clare said the company has not ruled anybody out.