A mass of documents gathered in the course of a defamation lawsuit against the proponents of the Big Lie is out, providing depositions with those who led the fight to overturn last year’s election and records that shed new light on the effort.
The documents include depositions with Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, representatives of the Trump campaign itself, and employees of MAGA news network OAN.
Eric Coomer, a former employee of voting machine company Dominion, filed the defamation lawsuit in Colorado state court after he found himself accused last year of taking part in a byzantine, supposedly Venezuela-linked conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election.
The lawsuit has allowed Giuliani, Powell, and others to face close questioning about the Big Lie, and unearthed documents from the Trump campaign about the effort to subvert the vote.
Here are five points on the information that’s come out of the case:
Sustained questioning makes the Big Lie promoters squirm.
The depositions offer a rare opportunity for those who propagated the Big Lie to face long, direct questioning about what took place.
Over and over, Big Lie proponents revealed that they didn’t really check to see whether what they were saying was true.
“Those social media posts get all one to me,” Giuliani said. “Right now, I can’t recall anything else that I laid eyes on.”
Giuliani added that, in Coomer’s case, he didn’t see anything that suggested the allegations “weren’t true.”
“Again I’m not the FBI, I wasn’t finding him guilty of a crime,” he said.
An attorney asked Giuliani whether it was “trial by press conference?”
“No, sir,” Giuliani replied, adding, “it was an investigation by press conference.”
Powell took a more aggressive line.
At one point, attorneys replayed a video that Powell had posted about Coomer. After being asked why she posted it, Powell said, “frankly, I think your lawsuit is defamation of me.”
The Trump campaign couldn’t stop fundraising off the Big Lie.
The Trump campaign itself sat for an interview, making Republican strategist Sean Dollman available as a representative.
Dollman was asked whether post-election claims of fraud were tied to the campaign’s fundraising apparatus. “So the longer the Trump campaign was publicly advancing theories of election fraud, the longer it could justifiably raise money; is that true?” an attorney for Coomer asked Dollman.
The Trump campaign representative replied that they did not “continue with litigation just to raise funds.” Rather, the campaign “raised funds to do that.”
The inevitable next question was: “if you had stopped contesting the election, it would have been harder to continue raising funds, correct?”
Dollman replied that the campaign would have stopped raising funds only “if there was a reason to stop contesting the election.”
He added after further questions that the Trump campaign still believes that the election was fraudulent.
When asked why, Dollman replied: “we have no underlying definite facts that it wasn’t.”
A memo attached as an exhibit to the deposition, first reported by the New York Times, shows that other Trump campaign attorneys knew that some of the Big Lie claims were mythical.
“Have more dead voters we’ll need to get to in the morning,” one wrote in a sardonic email. The memo itself notes, in one example, that Giuliani’s claim that votes were being counted in Spain appeared to be based on the fact that one vote-counting company is “owned by a Spanish person.”
The Big Lie team began to suspect the Trump campaign and the RNC of holding back…
Giuliani and Powell both suggested in their testimony that the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign itself tried to undermine their efforts at times to push forth the Big Lie.
The former NYC mayor recalled Trump ordering him to “take over the campaign” after his November 2020 loss became clear.
But Giuliani remarked that “the campaign had a different view of what should be done.”
“The campaign in my opinion had checked out about three, four weeks before the election,” he said. “They were pretty much convinced he was going to lose, they were looking for jobs, they were worried about their standing in the Washington community.”
He added that unnamed subversives in the Trump campaign “wanted to defeat” Trump himself, and alleged that attorneys performed a switcheroo on a legal complaint he filed related to the election outcome.
“The complaint that was substituted… completely subverted our theory of the case,” Giuliani complained. “There were more than a few acts like this.”
…and then they teamed up with an OAN reporter?
Giuliani told attorneys that the Trump legal team effectively deputized a reporter for OAN, the pro-Trump news network, to work for the Big Lie.
That, Giuliani said, involved Christina Bobb working for Trump’s “personal lawyers,” referring to her as “part of the legal team.” In that capacity, Giuliani claimed, she focused on searching for anything that would support the myth that the election had been fraudulent in the key states of Arizona, Michigan, and Georgia.
“My staff said she was terrific, she was very trustworthy and if we could work out an agreement with One America News, it would be very helpful,” Giuliani said. “She was a very good investigator.”
Bobb has used her TV perch at OAN to both promote the Big Lie and fundraise for elements of it. As the reality of Trump’s loss became clearer after the 2020 election, Bobb became increasingly detached from reality in her rhetoric.
Giuliani claimed that over that time period, she agreed to give the Trump legal team veto power over stories.
“The rules that we made with [OAN editor] Charles [Herring] were that he would defer to us to whatever our needs were, that he couldn’t give it to us permanently but he could loosen up her assignments for the next couple of months, therefore she wouldn’t be working all that much for OAN,” Giuliani said.
Herring, in his deposition, denied that he was aware of the arrangement.
Giuliani added that Bobb agreed that “if she did develop a discrete, good story, she would have to run it past us so it didn’t violate any of our rules or whatever.”
“And I was pretty comfortable they would live by it because they had before,” Giuliani remarked.
OAN has produced a string of documentaries that take ideas floating in the Trumpworld ether and give them form.
Giuliani couldn’t stop revealing more details.
Throughout all of this, attorneys for both sides kept trying to convince Giuliani to stop talking.
He revealed details that included trash talk about Sidney Powell: “She wasn’t as collegial maybe is a nice way to put it, which isn’t unusual for lawyers that tend to be prima donnas.”
He was met with protestations from his own attorney at times. At one point, Giuliani was asked about reporting suggesting that, on the night of the election, he told a group of senior Trump advisers in the White House to “just say that we won.”
Giuliani attorney Joe Sibley kept interjecting to say “we’re asserting privilege” and to tell Giuliani “don’t disclose whatever you said to them,” but Rudy plowed ahead.
“You asked a question and I’m going to finish it,” he fumed to the plaintiff attorney. “And I’m hardly going to tell someone to make an allegation and just say it without having substantial amount of proof of it.”
Giuliani obliquely suggested that he would never — never — make an allegation without heaps of evidence.
“And everything I alleged, I have at least one and usually 10 or 15 affidavits to support except nobody wants to look at them,” he added.