Sidney Powell's Lawyer Argues 'Reasonable People' Understand Political Speech Often 'Inexact'

A lawyer representing pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell filed a motion to dismiss the $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit brought by voting systems company Smartmatic against her, arguing that "reasonable people" would understand that political speech is often "inexact."

Powell filed a series of groundless election lawsuits in an effort to overturn President Joe Biden's victory over former President Donald Trump. The controversial lawyer baselessly claimed that Smartmatic worked with foreign nations and the Democrats to "rig" or "steal" the election from Trump. All of her lawsuits—as well as dozens of others filed by Trump and his supporters—were rejected in state and federal courts.

In a memorandum filed in a bid to dismiss the lawsuit, which was filed with the New York Supreme Court, Powell's attorney argued that her actions did not legally qualify as defamation. They contended that people should have viewed her remarks with skepticism due to her association with Trump.

"Powell's position as a lawyer advocating for her client makes it far more likely that the audience would filter her comments as partisan opinion, not less," they wrote.

They then quoted from a previous court decision to: "Put another way, 'reasonable listeners in such circumstances arrive with an appropriate amount of skepticism.' 600 W. 115th St. Corp. v. Von Gutfeld, 80 N.Y.2d 130, 141 (1992)."

Sidney Powell
A lawyer representing pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell filed a motion to dismiss the $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit brought by voting systems company Smartmatic against her, arguing that "reasonable people" would understand that political speech is often "inexact." Above, Powell speaks to the press about various lawsuits related to the 2020 election inside the Republican National Committee headquarters on November 19, 2020, in Washington, D.C. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The lawyer went on to cite another court decision, arguing that the political nature of her claims should make people understand they could be inaccurate.

"Reasonable people understand that the 'language of the political arena, like the language used in labor disputes ... is often vituperative, abusive and inexact.' Watts v. United States, 394 U.S. 705, 708 (1969)," they wrote.

Newsweek reached out to Powell but did not immediately receive a response.

The pro-Trump lawyer continues to spread baseless allegations about the 2020 election, as does the former president and other allies, including MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell and retired General Michael Flynn.

Dozens of pro-Trump 2020 election challenge lawsuits have been dismissed in state and federal courts. Even judges appointed by Trump and other Republicans have dismissed the allegations. Further, recounts and audits—including in states where the election was overseen by Republicans who voted for Trump—have reaffirmed Biden's win.

Former Attorney General William Barr, who was widely viewed as one of Trump's most loyal Cabinet officials, said in December that there was "no evidence" to support the claims of widespread fraud. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency at the Department of Homeland Security described the election as the "most secure in American history." The agency, which was led by a Trump appointee at the time, asserted that there was "no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised."

In an April court filing, an attorney representing Powell argued that her remarks should be viewed as her "opinion."

"No reasonable person would conclude that the statements were truly statements of fact," the attorney wrote at the time.