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Dominion sues Newsmax, One America over U.S. election fraud claims

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By Jan Wolfe and Tom Hals 

(Reuters) -Dominion Voting Systems Corp on Tuesday sued two conservative media networks, One America News Network and Newsmax Media Inc, saying they defamed the U.S. voting machine company by spreading false claims that it rigged the 2020 election against then-U.S. President Donald Trump. 

Dominion also filed a lawsuit making similar allegations against businessman Patrick Byrne, the former chief executive of online retailer Overstock.com Inc. 

The lawsuits are the latest legal actions taken by Denver-based Dominion against Trump allies that amplified false theories about the firm. 

In each of the three lawsuits filed on Monday, Dominion is seeking more than $1.6 billion in damages, citing lost profits and other harms. 

In a statement, Newsmax said, "While Newsmax has not reviewed the Dominion filing, in its coverage of the 2020 Presidential elections, Newsmax simply reported on allegations made by well-known public figures, including the President, his advisors and members of Congress — Dominion’s action today is a clear attempt to squelch such reporting and undermine a free press." 

Related video: Newsmax apologizes to Dominion worker for false allegations

Fox made similar arguments in a May court filing asking a judge to dismiss the case against it, saying that news outlets "must be able to report both sides of a story involving claims striking at the core of our democracy." 

Newsmax in April apologized to a Dominion employee for baselessly alleging that he rigged the company's vote counts against Trump. In exchange, the employee, Eric Coomer, dropped Newsmax from a defamation lawsuit. 

OANN representatives and Byrne did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

Trump continues to falsely claim that he lost to Democratic President Joe Biden due to rampant electoral fraud, claims that were rejected by multiple courts, state election officials and members of his own administration. 

Trump allies, including lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, picked up an online conspiracy theory that Dominion machines were used to hack the election, and made those baseless allegations during appearances on the conservative television stations. 

Giuliani and Powell, who have also been sued by Dominion, say they were lawfully exercising their free speech rights. 

In a call with reporters, Dominion attorney Stephen Shackelford of the Susman Godfrey law firm did not rule out suing Trump. 

"We are still exploring options as to how to hold other participants in the campaign of lies accountable," Shackelford said. 

(Reporting by Jan Wolfe in Boston, Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware, Sabahatjahan Contractor in Bengaluru, and Mark Hosenball in Washington; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis) 

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