Lawyers for the voting machine company at the centre of Donald Trump’s election conspiracy theories have demanded that a string of rightwing news outlets retract claims they have made about the company in recent weeks.
A legal firm working for Dominion Voting Systems has written to Fox News, two other rightwing networks — One America News Network and Newsmax — and the Epoch Times newspaper, insisting they all retract allegations regarding the company’s role in last month’s election.
The lawyers also sent individual letters to some of America’s most well-known conservative presenters, including Rush Limbaugh, the rightwing radio presenter, and three Fox News hosts: Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs and Maria Bartiromo.
The 21 letters, seen by the Financial Times, form part of an aggressive pushback by Dominion, which the president and his allies have accused, without evidence, of being part of a vast conspiracy to steal the election from him and deliver victory to his opponent Joe Biden.
In the letter to Fox News, the lawyers wrote: “We demand that Fox issue a retraction to make clear that there is simply no evidence to support the conspiracy theories that continue to smear the company’s good name.”
John Poulos, Dominion’s chief executive, said on Wednesday that he expected to file legal action against some of the president’s allies in the future.
Mr Poulos told CNN on Thursday: “We did send a letter to several different people that have been spreading lies and defamatory remarks since election day on various different platforms.”
He added: “We fully expect that none of them will be retracting their statements, so it forces our hand to file action.”
Fox News, OANN, Newsmax, the Epoch Times and Mr Limbaugh did not immediately respond to a request to comment.
Dominion’s lawyers have targeted their initial litigation at Sidney Powell, a lawyer who has helped spread accusations that Hugo Chávez, the late Venezuelan leader, was behind a scheme to plant faulty voting machines across the US. Mr Poulos on Thursday called her “the most egregious and prolific purveyor of these lies”.
The company’s lawyers have also written to Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel, and Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, warning them to preserve any documents that could be relevant to a lawsuit.
The White House declined to comment. Neither Ms Powell nor Mr Giuliani responded to a request to do so.
Tom Clare, one of Dominion’s lawyers, told the Daily Beast earlier this week he expected to file “multiple litigation matters” in January.
Smartmatic, another voting machine company that has been the subject of accusations by Trump allies, has also threatened legal action against Fox News, Newsmax and One America News Network. The company demanded the channels retract accusations that the company had conspired to fix the election for Mr Biden.
Following that threat, both Fox News and Newsmax aired segments debunking the claims. Fox broadcast an interview in which Eddie Perez, director of the Open Source Election Technology Institute, was questioned about the claims by a voice from off-camera. Mr Perez then explained in detail why the allegations were untrue.
Mr Trump’s claims of a vast election fraud have been rejected by several organisations, including his own government’s cyber security agency, as well as in court. William Barr said just before stepping down as US attorney-general this week that there was no reason to seize voting machines or appoint a special counsel to look into voter fraud.
The president reportedly considered giving Ms Powell a role at the White House to investigate electoral malpractice but is said to have since gone cold on the idea.