A federal judge has allowed a defamation lawsuit against Fox News and former host Lou Dobbs to continue forward.
Venezuelan businessman Majed Khalil filed the suit last year accusing Dobbs and the network of pushing false claims he helped rig the 2020 presidential election. Khali’s filing claims statements made on Twitter and on Dobbs’ show and by pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell defamed Khalil by accusing him of executing an “electoral 9/11” and helping change ballot counts in voting machines.
In January Dobbs, the Fox Corporation, and Fox News moved to dismiss the case by arguing the statements were protected under the First Amendment and not said with malice, the standard of proof required for defamation against public figures.
According to The Hill, U.S. District Court Judge Louis Lee Stanton denied the motion saying Khalil is not a public figure and that his complaint showed enough evidence of false and defamatory statements to move forward to discovery in the case.
“Defendants repeatedly maintained their claims about Khalil long after Powell’s election fraud theories were challenged,” Stanton wrote in the ruling. “Numerous reports that declared the falsity of the claims against Dominion and Smartmatic and rejected Powell as an accurate source of information gave Defendants reasons to doubt Powell’s veracity and the accuracy of her reports.”
Khalil’s complaint references a Dec. 10, 2020, tweet from Dobbs listing Khalil as one of “four names” that people need to get familiar with, accusing him of being a liaison with Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the “effective COO” of an election rigging scheme using Smartmatic and Dominion voting machines.
According to Khalil’s complaint, Dobbs asked Powell on the show, “You say these four individuals led the effort to rig this election. How did they do it?”
Powell allegedly responded by saying Khalil and the others “designed and developed the Smartmatic and Dominion programs and machines that include a controller module that allows people to log in and manipulate the vote even as it’s happening.”
Powell’s and other Trump allies’ claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election have triggered multiple defamation lawsuits. Separately, Dominion Voting Systems is also targeting Powell in a $1.3 billion defamation suit.