Venezuelan man files $250 million lawsuit against Fox News and Sidney Powell after baseless accusations that he rigged 2020 election results

·3 min read
Headshots of Lou Dobbs and Sidney Powell
Lou Dobbs, right, and Sidney Powell.Getty Images; Getty Images
  • A Venezuelan businessman has sued Fox News, former host Lou Dobbs, and Sidney Powell.

  • Dobbs and Powell baselessly accused him of being involved in a plot to manipulate election results.

  • In the lawsuit, the man says he isn't involved with the voting companies Dominion and Smartmatic.

A Venezuelan businessman filed a defamation lawsuit this month against Fox News, former Fox Business Network host Lou Dobbs, and Sidney Powell, alleging they falsely implicated him in an election-rigging scheme and demanding $250 million in damages.

The businessman, Majed Khalil, says Dobbs and Powell wrongly wrapped him up in their conspiracy theory that Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems — two rival election-technology companies — worked to rig the 2020 presidential election against then-President Donald Trump and in favor of now-President Joe Biden.

Dobbs and Powell, in media appearances and social-media posts, both pushed elements of the false theory that alleged Khalil was once the "COO" of an operation to rig votes for the now-dead Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and that he was involved in a plot to rig the 2020 US presidential election as well.

In reality, Smartmatic has publicly accused the Venezuelan government of tampering with the results of elections that used its software.

According to Dobbs and Powell, the falsified Venezuelan election results were a forerunner to the 2020 election, which Dobbs described in a tweet as a "cyber Pearl Harbor" and "electoral 9-11." Dobbs also baselessly described Khalil as being a "liaison with Hezbollah," and Powell continued to push the conspiracy theory in a November 8, 2020, appearance on the Fox Business Network show "Lou Dobbs Tonight," according to the lawsuit.

In the lawsuit, Khalil denied he had any affiliation with Smartmatic or Dominion and said he has never been involved in any US elections. Khalil works in the hospitality business, according to a person familiar with his employment. The lawsuit also says that neither Powell nor Dobbs reached out to Khalil before making their allegations.

Khalil's lawsuit went largely unnoticed when it was filed earlier in December in New York state court. Fox News successfully moved it to Manhattan federal court, which has jurisdiction over the case because Khalil is a Venezuelan citizen, where it was docketed on December 2 and assigned to US District Judge Louis L. Stanton, an appointee of former President Ronald Reagan.

An attorney for Powell didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment. Powell's appearance on Dobbs' now-canceled Fox Business show, days after Biden had already won the 2020 presidential election, has been at the center of several defamation lawsuits that Fox News has fought in court. The company's attorneys are also representing Dobbs in all the election-related defamation litigation he faces.

Smartmatic sued Fox News, Dobbs, and several other hosts in February, demanding $2.7 billion in defamation damages. Fox Business canceled "Lou Dobbs Tonight" soon afterward, and Dobbs has since announced the launch of a podcast not affiliated with the network. A New York state judge is weighing a motion from Fox News to dismiss Smartmatic's lawsuit.

Dominion, too, filed a lawsuit against Fox News in March. A Delaware state judge denied Fox News' motion to dismiss the lawsuit earlier this month.

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