In a now-infamous Nov. 19 press conference at the Republican Party’s national headquarters in Washington, D.C., Sidney Powell and other attorneys then representing Donald Trump and his campaign made a series of bizarre claims about Dominion Voting Systems, painting a wild picture of a years-long socialist plot to steal elections in multiple countries.
But these claims weren’t just bizarre. Campaign staffers had been warned, according to a court filing in a defamation suit first reported Tuesday by The New York Times, that they were false.
Among the wave of crazy unleashed by Powell, Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis at the press conference, Powell claimed the campaign was uncovering the “massive influence of communist money” in American elections.
“The Dominion voting systems, the Smartmatic technology software and the software that goes in other computerized voting systems here as well, not just Dominion,” she said, were “created in Venezuela at the direction of Hugo Chavez to make sure he never lost an election after one constitutional referendum came out the way he did not want it to come out.”
Later, Powell turned her attention to a specific Dominion employee, Eric Coomer. She claimed that he was “on the web as being recorded in a conversation with antifa members saying that he had the election rigged for Mr. Biden.”
That was an apparent reference to a podcast in which a right-wing entrepreneur, Joe Oltmann, claimed to have infiltrated an “antifa call” and heard from someone identified as “Eric at Dominion.” Eric at Dominion, Oltmann claimed on his podcast, made a pledge to others on the call: “Don’t worry about the election, Trump is not going to win. I made effing sure of that.”
But according to the filing flagged by the Times, on Nov. 13, the Trump campaign’s deputy director of communications, Zach Parkinson, had asked subordinates to “substantiate or debunk” several claims about Dominion and other companies.
The memo, which the Times published separately, stated plainly that “Dominion has no company ties to Venezuela,” “There Is No Evidence That Dominion Used Smartmatic’s Software In The 2020 Election Cycle,” and “There is no evidence Coomer is a member or has any ties to Antifa.”
“DOMINION’S LEADERSHIP HAS NO TIES TO ANTIFA,” one heading on the document read.
The suit, which was filed by Coomer, is in state court in Colorado, where court filings are not made available online. A spokesperson for Coomer’s lawyers told TPM they were not providing a digital copy of the filing to reporters. Defendants in the suit include the Trump campaign, Powell, Giuliani and Oltmann.
The legal team cited the filing as evidence of the contradictions within the Trump campaign at the time.
“The memo produced by the Trump campaign shows that, at least internally, the Trump campaign found there was no evidence to support the conspiracy theories regarding Dominion” and Coomer, Coomer’s lawyers wrote, according to the Times.
“The Trump campaign continued to allow its agents to advance debunked conspiracy theories and defame” Coomer, the filing said separately, according to the Times, “apparently without providing them with their own research debunking those theories.”
The Times noted that it wasn’t clear how widely the memo prepared for Parkinson was distributed within the campaign. Giuliani, in a deposition for the suit, reportedly said he hadn’t seen the memo prior to the Nov. 19 press conference.