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Rudy Giuliani Dealt Another Setback in Multi-Billion Dollar Legal Brawl with Smartmatic, as Judge Revives Once-Dismissed Count

Rudy Giuliani speaks to the press about various lawsuits related to the 2020 election inside the Republican National Committee's headquarters on November 19, 2020. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.)

Rudy Giuliani speaks to the press about various lawsuits related to the 2020 election inside the Republican National Committee’s headquarters on Nov. 19, 2020. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.)

Rudy Giuliani has been dealt another setback on Wednesday in a multi-billion dollar legal battle accusing him of defaming the Smartmatic voting machine company to propagate 2020 election conspiracy theories.

In March, a Manhattan judge advanced Smartmatic’s lawsuit against the Fox Corporation, Maria BartiromoLou Dobbs, and Giuliani, who succeeded in dismissing only some of the counts against him. Jeanine Pirro and Sidney Powell were able to scuttle the lawsuit against them entirely.

On Wednesday, the judge agreed to revive one of the counts that Giuliani had successfully dismissed. That count alleged that Giuliani defamed the company by claiming that their “election technology was designed and used to fix, rig and steal elections.”

“Since such a defamatory statement impugns the basic integrity of SUSA’s business, ‘an action for defamation lies and injury is conclusively presumed,'” Manhattan Supreme Court Justice David Cohen wrote in a seven-page ruling.

Smartmatic filed its $2.7 billion lawsuit in February 2021, accusing Fox of engaging in a “disinformation campaign, which has damaged democracy worldwide and irreparably harmed Smartmatic and other stakeholders who contribute to modern elections.”

Giuliani and Smartmatic did not immediately respond to emails requesting comment.

When the lawsuit was originally filed, Fox responded that it is “committed to providing the full context of every story with in-depth reporting and clear opinion.”

“We are proud of our 2020 election coverage and will vigorously defend this meritless lawsuit in court,” a spokesperson said at the time.

The case has progressed steadily into discovery. In September, a judge ordered Fox to start turning over files from a pool of millions of documents that Smartmatic demanded. Smartmatic’s lawyer accused the network at the time of delay tactics.

“It’s about delay,” Wipper thundered. “This is the strategy here.”

Fox isn’t the only network that Smartmatic sued on the political right. It also filed lawsuits against the One America Network and Newsmax, known for their friendly coverage of Donald Trump and peddling of the former president’s false election fraud claims.

For Smartmatic, the 2020 election gave those networks an opening to try to lure Fox’s viewers. Its competitor Dominion interpreted their coverage the same way in separate lawsuits.

“Spurred by a quest for profits and viewers, OAN — a competitor to media giant Fox — engaged in a race to the bottom with Fox and other outlets such as Newsmax to spread false and manufactured stories about election fraud,” Dominion’s lawsuit said.

The notion that Smartmatic swung the election against Trump was one of the many outlandish conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election. Its machines were only used that election in deep blue Los Angeles county in California, and not in any swing state. Trump’s own cybersecurity czar called the race the most secure in U.S. history.

Fox argues that it had the right to report the arguments made by the president’s lawyers. Smartmatic says the network knew those theories didn’t hold water and aired them without skepticism.

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."