A federal judge on Thursday said he would sanction MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell for making baseless legal claims against the voting machine manufacturers Dominion and Smartmatic, including at least one against Smartmatic that he said “falls on the frivolous side of the line.”
The judge said the pillow magnate would have to pay a portion of Smartmatic’s legal fees, and that the amount would be determined after receiving briefs from both sides.
Lindell, who’s spent millions pushing the lie that Donald Trump actually won the last presidential election, was sued for defamation by the companies last year, alongside MyPillow, in a case that’s ongoing in federal court in Washington, D.C. Among other things, Lindell claimed the voting machines were “built to cheat.”
But rather than backing off his lies about the last election, Lindell has continued to double down, including by financing various candidates and political efforts around the country invested in the same falsehoods.
That effort included filing counterclaims and “third-party claims” against Dominion and Smartmatic. Judge Carl J. Nichols of the U.S. District Court for Washington, D.C., granted those companies’ request to dismiss the claims Thursday.
Lindell accused the companies of “lawfare” and attempting to intimidate and silence him — along with a slew of other allegations, like violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, or RICO. Nichols spent 30 pages detailing the ways Lindell’s claims fell flat.
For example, Lindell accused Dominion of abuse of process, but the bedding entrepreneur “fails to identify any act that Dominion has taken other than filing and pursuing its lawsuit,” Nichols observed.
On the RICO claim, Lindell alleged that Dominion, Smarmatic and others were acting in concert, like a criminal organization, for the purpose of “suppressing speech and dissent” and compared the companies to a price-fixing scheme.
The only problem, Nichols said, is that Lindell didn’t actually present any evidence to support the claim. And on top of that, litigation-related activity — such as dozens of cease-and-desist letters Lindell complained about — isn’t covered by RICO.
Lindell also accused Dominion and Smartmatic of violating his 14th Amendment right to equal protection under the law, but “Lindell does not even attempt to show that Smartmatic treated him differently relative to a similarly situated comparator,” the judge wrote — meaning the claim failed a pretty basic constitutional test. Lindell’s First Amendment violation claims fell similarly short, not least because the voting machine manufacturers’ defamation lawsuits against Lindell aren’t state actions, Nichols found.
The hits kept coming: Lindell sued Dominion for defamation for calling him a “liar,” even though that claim was protected because it was made in the course of Dominion’s own defamation lawsuit against Lindell, the judge said.
Lindell also alleged that Dominion, Smartmatic and the consulting firm Hamilton Place Strategies violated the “support and advocacy clause” through a coordinated “lawfare” campaign — basically accusing the companies of conspiring to illegally silence him.
Initially written to push back against the Ku Klux Klan, the “support and advocacy” language doesn’t exactly apply to Lindell’s grievances, Nichols said.
“Lindell’s Complaint points to no event, no conversation, no document — really, nothing at all — to suggest that Dominion, Smartmatic, or Hamilton Place reached any sort of ‘agreement,’” he wrote. “Nor does Lindell offer allegations from which an agreement could be inferred.”
Later, Nichols cited that claim in particular as being on “the frivolous side of the line.”
“In particular, the Court concludes that at the very least Lindell’s claim against Smartmatic under the Support or Advocacy Clause falls on the frivolous side of the line (other claims do too),” the judge wrote. “As a result, the Court orders Lindell and his previous counsel to pay some of the fees and costs Smartmatic has incurred defending itself and moving for sanctions under Rule 11.”