Trump campaign knew that the lawyers’ claims to rule were unfounded, memo shows

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Two weeks after the 2020 elections, a team of lawyers closely associated with Donald J. Trump held a high-profile press conference at the Republican Party headquarters in Washington. At the event, they put forward a bizarre conspiracy theory claiming a voting machine manufacturer worked with an election software company, financier George Soros, and Venezuela to steal Mr. Trump’s presidential contest.

But there was a problem for the Trump team, according to court documents released on Monday evening.

By the time the press conference was held on November 19, Mr. Trump’s campaign had already prepared an internal memo on many of the outlandish claims made about Dominion Voting Systems and separate software company Smartmatic. The memo found these allegations to be untrue.

The court records, originally filed late last week as a motion in a libel lawsuit against the campaign and others by a former Dominion employee, Eric Coomer, contain evidence that Trump campaign officials knew early on that many of the allegations were made against the companies were unfounded.

The documents also suggest that the campaign was based on what they learned about Dominion, even when Sidney Powell and other lawyers attacked the company in the conservative media and eventually filed four federal lawsuits alleging an extensive conspiracy to manipulate the elections against Mr Trump was accused.

According to emails in the documents, Zach Parkinson, then deputy communications director for the campaign, reached out to subordinates on November 13, asking them to “prove or debunk” several matters relating to Dominion. The next day, according to the emails, Mr. Parkinson received a copy of a memo that his staff had pieced together from what appeared to be news articles and public service fact-checking.

Although hastily compiled, the memo refuted a number of allegations that Ms. Powell and others made public. It found:

  • That Dominion did not use any voting technology from the software company Smartmatic in the 2020 elections.

  • This Dominion had no direct connections with Venezuela or with Mr. Soros.

  • And that there was no evidence that the Dominion leadership had ties to left-wing “antifa” activists, as Ms. Powell and others had claimed.

As Mr. Coomer’s attorneys wrote in their motion in the defamation lawsuit, “The memo prepared by the Trump campaign shows that the Trump campaign has found no evidence, at least internally, to support the Dominion conspiracy theories” and Mr. Coomer.

Even then, many political observers and voters, both Democrats and Republicans, dismissed the efforts of Ms. Powell and other pro-Trump lawyers like Rudolph W. Giuliani as a ferocious last-ditch effort to appease a defeated president who denied his loss . But the false theories they promoted quickly gained prominence in the conservative media and persisted almost a year later.

It is unclear whether Mr Trump knew or saw the memo; Still, the documents suggest that his campaign’s communications staff were silent about the allegations against Dominion at a time when the allegations were freely circulating.

“The Trump campaign continued to allow its agents,” the motion said, “to spread exposed conspiracy theories and” defame Mr. Coomer, “apparently without providing them with their own research exposing these theories.”

Dominion’s former director of product strategy and safety, Mr. Coomer, sued Ms. Powell, Mr. Giuliani, the Trump campaign and others in Denver District Court last year. He said that after the election he was wrongly accused by a right-wing podcast host of hacking his company’s systems to ensure Mr Trump’s defeat and then telling left-wing activists about it.

Shortly after the host, Joe Oltmann, made these allegations, they were picked up and reinforced by Ms. Powell and Mr. Giuliani, who were part of a self-proclaimed “elite strike force” of lawyers who brought charges against Joseph R. The victory of Biden Jr .

For example, on November 19, Ms. Powell and Mr. Giuliani appeared together at the press conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters, placing Mr. Coomer at the center of a conspiracy to hack the election by hacking Dominion’s voting machines. According to Ms. Powell’s report that day, the conspiracy involved Smartmatic, Venezuelan officials, people linked to Mr. Soros, and a “massive influence of communist money.”

Ms. Powell and Mr. Giuliani did not respond to messages asking for comments on the documents. Representatives of Mr. Trump also did not respond to emails asking for comments.

Mr Trump continues to falsely argue that his election was stolen, and for the past few months Ms. Powell and Mr Giuliani have maintained their claims that the election was fraught with fraud. A lawyer for Mr. Giuliani said in a lawsuit last month that at least some of his allegations of electoral fraud were “essentially true”.

And just three weeks ago, Ms. Powell told a reporter for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that the 2020 election “was essentially a bloodless coup in which you took over the presidency of the United States without a single shot being fired.”

It remains unclear how widely the memo was circulated among Trump campaign workers. According to court records, Mr Giuliani said in a statement that he had not seen the memo prior to its presentation in Washington and questioned the motives of those who prepared it.

Trump’s offer to undermine the election

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Pressure on civil servants to “find votes”. With the president continuing to refuse to admit the election, his most loyal supporters declared January 6th, when Congress convened to formalize Mr Biden’s election victory, as a day of reckoning. That day, Mr. Trump delivered an incendiary speech in front of thousands of his supporters, hours before a mob of loyalists forcibly stormed the Capitol.

“They wanted Trump to lose because they could raise more money,” Giuliani was quoted as saying in the statement.

But at the time the internal report was produced, Mr. Giuliani and Ms. Powell were both “active managers” as he put it in his testimony in the Trump campaign’s broader plan to challenge the election results – an effort that eventually included : more than 60 unsuccessful lawsuits filed across the country. While Ms. Powell soon went her own way by claiming Dominion conspired to steal the election, Mr. Giuliani continued to work closely with Mr. Trump and his campaign, eventually changing strategies and trying to convince state parliaments to overturn the referendum.

The motion states that “the lines were blurred” as to who Ms. Powell was working for at the time: herself, her nonprofit, or the Trump campaign. Almost immediately after she spread the conspiracy theory about Dominion at the November press conference, Trump tried to distance himself from her. But in December, as Mr Trump’s legal options tightened, the former president considered bringing her back into his lap and debated whether to appoint her as a special lawyer overseeing an election fraud investigation.

The publication of the documents was just the latest legal troubles for Mr. Giuliani and Ms. Powell, both of whom Dominion had sued directly for defamation. Dominion has also filed a defamation lawsuit against Mike Lindell, the chairman of MyPillow’s board of directors, for reinforcing false election allegations. Last month, a federal judge in Washington ruled the cases could move further towards trial.

At about the same time, a federal judge in Detroit ordered sentences to be sentenced to Ms. Powell and eight other pro-Trump attorneys – Mr. Giuliani was not among them – who had filed a lawsuit over the Michigan election results with the false allegations Dominion.

“This case was never about fraud,” wrote Judge Linda V. Parker in her decision. “It was about undermining people’s trust in our democracy and degrading the judicial process required for it.”

In June, a New York court suspended Mr. Giuliani’s bar license, ruling that he had made “proven false and misleading statements” while battling the results of last year’s election for Mr. Trump.

Until recently, according to the new court documents, former Trump campaigners continued to cling to the unfounded notion that the election was overshadowed by fraud.

When Mr. Coomer’s lawyers, Sean Dollman, a representative of the Trump campaign, asked in a statement whether the campaign still believed the election was a fraud, he replied, “Yes, sir.”

The lawyers then asked, “What is this opinion based on?”

According to the court records, Mr. Dollman gave an unsure answer.

“We don’t have any underlying clear facts that it wasn’t,” he said.

Susan Dominus, Shay Castle and Mindy Sink contributed to the coverage.

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