WASHINGTON — Dominion Voting Systems, the election equipment manufacturer that became the target of wild conspiracy theories pushed by former President Donald Trump and his allies, sued Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani for defamation Monday.
Dominion said in a 107-page complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Washington that "as a result of the defamatory falsehoods peddled by Giuliani" in conjunction with other Trump allies and pro-Trump media outlets, "Dominion's founder and employees have been harassed and received death threats, and Dominion has suffered unprecedented and irreparable harm."
"Dominion brings this action to set the record straight, to vindicate the company's rights under civil law, to recover compensatory and punitive damages, and to stand up for itself, its employees, and the electoral process," the lawsuit says.
The company accuses Giuliani, who helped fuel Trump's lie about a stolen election, of making false and defamatory statements about Dominion on his Twitter account, on his radio and podcast shows, in televised media appearances and at the rally Trump held before his supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Dominion is seeking more than $1.3 billion in damages in a jury trial, according to the complaint, which was first reported by The New York Times.
Dominion said Giuliani and his allies created and spread what it called the "big lie," which "deceived millions into believing that Dominion had stolen their votes and fixed the election."
The suit says Giuliani, in addition to demanding a reported $20,000 a day to represent Trump, "cashed in" on the conspiracy theory by hosting a podcast on which he advertised supplements, gold coins, cigars and protection from "cyberthieves."
The complaint outlines evidence of Giuliani's false claims about how Dominion "fixed" the election, which resulted in Trump's defeat and Joe Biden's victory. It includes screenshots from Giuliani's TV appearances on Fox News and Fox Business and his tweets that spread conspiracy theories about the election. Dominion also detailed how Giuliani's lies affected his followers.
It showed, for example, screenshots of Giuliani speaking on his podcast about Dominion on Christmas Day, with a viewer commenting, "All these people involved with the fraud need to be executed for treason."
Dominion CEO John Poulos said in a statement: "Not only have these lies damaged the good name of my company, but they also undermined trust in American democratic institutions, drowning out the remarkable work of elections officials and workers, who ensured a transparent and secure election. The thousands of hand recounts and audits that proved machines counted accurately continue to be overshadowed by disinformation.
"Giuliani continues to make demonstrably false claims, and we intend to hold him, and others who spread disinformation, to account," Poulos said.
Giuliani said in a statement Monday that the lawsuit will allow him "to investigate their history, finances, and practices fully and completely."
"The amount being asked for is, quite obviously, intended to frighten people of faint heart. It is another act of intimidation by the hate-filled left wing to wipe out and censor the exercise of free speech, as well as the ability of lawyers to defend their clients vigorously," he said. "As such, we will investigate a countersuit against them for violating these constitutional rights."
Dominion sued lawyer Sidney Powell, who pushed Trump's attempts to overturn election results, for defamation this month. Dominion said it was requesting damages of more than $1.3 billion in that suit, saying that it has spent millions on security for its employees and to control the damage to its reputation and that it risks losing future business.
In a Zoom news conference Monday, Tom Clare, an attorney representing Dominion, said the company was working on additional defamation suits related to misinformation stemming from the election, and he suggested that the company may still act against Trump.
"We have not ruled anyone out," he said in response to a question about Trump.
Dominion is one of the country's largest election equipment vendors, and its products were used in 28 states in the election. The company was recently contracted to replace the bulk of voting machines in Georgia, where Biden defeated Trump. Trump became particularly inflamed by that loss, spreading misinformation about voting in Georgia and begging the state's head election official to overturn the results.
While cybersecurity researchers have uncovered some flaws in election equipment in recent years, the world's top election security experts have signed an open letter saying there was no evidence that computer fraud affected the election.
"We are aware of alarming assertions being made that the 2020 election was 'rigged' by exploiting technical vulnerabilities," they wrote. "However, in every case of which we are aware, these claims either have been unsubstantiated or are technically incoherent."