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Barr Subpoenaed in Dominion’s $1.6 Billion Suit Against Fox News

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(Bloomberg) -- Former US Attorney General William Barr was subpoenaed in a $1.6 billion defamation suit brought against Fox News by the voting-machine company falsely accused of rigging the 2020 election.

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Dominion Voting Systems Inc. is seeking sworn testimony from Barr, who served as former President Donald Trump’s attorney general, court filings show. Barr contradicted Trump about a month after the election by telling the Associated Press that the Justice Department had found no evidence of widespread voter fraud that would have changed the result.

“Fox -- the dominant voice in conservative media -- relentlessly continued its attacks on the integrity of Dominion and the 2020 election” even after Barr refuted the conspiracy theory, the company said in the March 2021 lawsuit.

Barr’s lawyer, Noel Francisco, didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Dominion, based in Denver, is gathering testimony from bipartisan officials who warned Trump that his conspiracy theory was baseless, to demonstrate that Fox News was on notice the claims were bogus even as it hosted Trump allies who without proof insisted otherwise. Fox News has argued that its broadcasts were journalism protected by the First Amendment.

‘Complete Nonsense’

The false claims ultimately helped trigger the Jan. 6, 2021 assault on the Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters.

Barr testified to the House select committee probing the Capitol riot that he told the president that some of his allegations were “complete nonsense,” according to a video recording of his deposition. Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson later testified that Trump threw his lunch against a wall after reading Barr’s interview with the AP.

Last week Dominion subpoenaed Christopher Krebs, a former top cybersecurity official at the Department of Homeland Security whom Trump fired for refusing to question the integrity of the election. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who was pressured by Trump to flip the state’s election results after Joe Biden was declared the winner, was also subpoenaed.

According to Dominion’s suit in Delaware state court, Fox News knowingly broadcast false claims that voting machines were rigged in order to win back viewers upset that the conservative network had called the election for Biden.

A judge in December ruled Dominion’s suit against Fox News could go forward because the network probably had enough information after the election to know the conspiracy theory was false. The judge last month also allowed Dominion’s claim against Fox’s parent company Fox Corp. to move forward, because Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch may have acted with “actual malice” in directing the network to broadcast the conspiracy.

Read More: Murdoch’s Call to Trump Suggests Fox Knew He Lost, Judge Says

Smartmatic Corp., another voting-machine firm that was falsely accused of rigging the election, separately on Monday urged a judge to allow its defamation suit against former Trump campaign attorney Sidney Powell to proceed. Powell has argued she can’t be sued in Washington, but Smartmatic contends she established jurisdiction by holding an infamous Nov. 19, 2020, press conference in Washington with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, outlining a vast and baseless conspiracy involving China, Venezuela and foreign hackers.

“She deliberately chose the District of Columbia as the epicenter of her disinformation campaign because it is the seat of the federal government, and she knew that it would add credibility to her false narrative,” Smartmatic said in the filing.

Powell didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

The Dominion case is Dominion Voting Systems v. Fox Corp., No. N21C-11-082 EMD CCLD, Delaware Superior Court (Wilmington). The Smartmatic case is Smartmatic Corp. v. Powell, 1:21-cv-02995, US District Court for the District of Columbia (Washington).

(Updates with court filing in related Smartmatic lawsuit)

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