DENVER (AP) — Attorneys for President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, its onetime attorney Rudy Giuliani and conservative media figures asked a judge Wednesday to dismiss a defamation lawsuit by a former employee of Dominion Voting Systems who argues he lost his job after being named in false charges as trying to rig the 2020 election.
Eric Coomer, a former security director at Colorado-based Dominion, says in the lawsuit he was driven into hiding by death threats after the Trump campaign and others publicized an unverified report that Coomer told activists of the Antifa movement in a pre-election telephone call that the vote could be fixed for Joe Biden.
Despite repeated claims and lawsuits, there has been no evidence that the 2020 election was rigged or of widespread fraud.
Coomer’s Denver District Court lawsuit names the Trump campaign, Giuliani and onetime campaign lawyer Sidney Powell, conservative columnist Michelle Malkin, the website Gateway Pundit, Colorado activist Joseph Oltmann and One America News Network.
The case centers around reporting of the alleged September 2020 phone call by Oltmann.
His attorney said that Oltmann identified someone referred to as “Eric” on the purported call as Coomer by Googling the name and Dominion. Oltmann also found private anti-Trump social media posts by Coomer, said attorney Andrew DeFranco.
Coomer publicized his findings on a podcast, and he was both interviewed about it and it was picked up by the other defendants, the lawsuit alleges. Both President Trump and his son Eric Trump tweeted references to the report as the campaign launched ultimately unsuccessful lawsuits after the election alleging there was widespread voter fraud.
Giuliani and Powell both referred to Coomer in a post-election news conference alleging fraud.
“This case is not about whether Coomer was on the call in September 2020. This is about whether Oltmann reasonably believes that Coomer was on the call,” DeFranco said. “He believes it to this day.”
Defranco, Giuliani attorney Joe Sibley and Trump campaign attorney Eric Holway argued their clients didn’t act with malice, that the report was public knowledge, and that Coomer was a public figure — all conditions that should preclude Coomer from prevailing in his defamation suit.
Judge Marie Avery Moses repeatedly asked defense counsel if their clients investigated or tried to fact-check Oltmann’s claim. Counsel replied that their clients had a First Amendment right to address a report already in the public realm. Some insisted that there was no coordination or conspiracy against Coomer or Dominion, as Coomer’s lawsuit contends.
“There were serious doubts about election fraud at the time. The context is important,” Holway said.
Dominion, which provided vote-counting equipment to several states, has denied accusations that it switched Trump votes in Biden’s favor.
Coomer has insisted he has no connections to Antifa, was never on any call and that there is a recording of him is “wholly fabricated.”
He also has said that right-wing websites posted his photo, home address and details about his family. Death threats began almost immediately.
Coomer’s attorneys said they will present evidence of a pre-conceived narrative of election fraud looking for a target and that the defendants found one in Coomer. The hearing to dismiss his lawsuit continues Thursday.
James Anderson, The Associated Press