Leaving Venezuela; or, The Power of Litigation

I don’t link to Newsmax often. I may never have linked to Newsmax, actually, or at least not for many years. But I’m linking to this — Facts About Dominion, Smartmatic You Should Know. Dominion and Smartmatic are voting machine companies that play a central role in claims that Trump was robbed of an election win.

What’s remarkable about the article is that it’s factual. We see paragraphs like this:

Newsmax would like to clarify its news coverage and note it has not reported as true certain claims made about these companies.  …

…Dominion has stated its company has no ownership relationship with the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s family, Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s family, the Clinton family, Hugo Chavez, or the government of Venezuela.

Neither Dominion nor Smartmatic has any relationship with George Soros.

Smartmatic is a U.S. company and not owned by the Venezuelan government, Hugo Chavez or any foreign official or entity.

Smartmatic states it has no operations in Venezuela. While the company did election projects in Venezuela from 2004 to 2017, it states it never was founded by Hugo Chavez, nor did it have a corrupt relationship with him or the Venezuelan government.

It’s also the case that Smartmatic and Dominion are separate companies and not affiliates. Smartmatic machines were not used in any of the contested states and in fact were used only in Los Angeles County in 2020. According to wingnut theory, Dominion is just a front company for Smartmatic, or else Dominion uses Smartmatic software, neither of which is true. The Smartmatic connection apparently is important to the Trump Wuz Robbed theory because Smartmatic was founded in the United States by a software engineer named Antonio Mugica who was born in Venezuela. Dominion has no ties to Venezuela, I take it.

Gotta get Venezuela in there, somewhere.

I bet you are guessing that somebody got the fear of expensive litigation put into them. You would be right. See Ben Smith at The New York Times, The ‘Red Slime’ Lawsuit That Could Sink Right-Wing Media. In brief, both Smartmatic and Dominion have threatened right-wing media entities, plus Sydney Powell, with lawsuits. And they have damn good cases.

These are legal threats any company, even a giant like Fox Corporation, would take seriously. And they could be fatal to the dream of a new “Trump TV,” a giant new media company in the president’s image, and perhaps contributing to his bottom line. Newsmax and OAN would each like to become that, and are both burning money to steal ratings from Fox, executives from both companies have acknowledged. They will need to raise significantly more money, or to sell quickly to investors, to build a Fox-style multibillion-dollar empire. But outstanding litigation with the potential of an enormous verdict will be enough to scare away most buyers.

See also Max Shuham at Talking Points Memo, Newsmax Runs Away From Its Election Conspiracy Coverage Like A Scalded Dog. And at Forbes, see Jemima McEvoy, Voting Machine Manufacturer Threatens Legal Action.

In a three-minute segment aired on three shows that previously played host to some of the more zany election fraud claims coming from Trump’s advocates—Fox Business’ “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” and Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo’s “Sunday Morning Futures” and Jeanine Pirro’s “Justice with Judge Jeanine”—Fox News appeared to retract allegations made against Smartmatic.

In each pre-recorded segment, entitled “CLOSER LOOK AT CLAIMS ABOUT SMARTMATIC,” an unnamed voice is heard questioning Open Source Election Technology Institute Director Eddie Perez, labeled a “leading” authority on open source software for elections, who fact checks false claims about Smartmatic, including some that have previously made their way onto Fox’s airwaves as serious allegations.

One America News appears to be holding out and has published no retractions I could find. Yet.

Trump is not giving up on his fraud claims. See Charlotte Klein at Vanity Fair, Martial Law? Seizing Voting Machines? Trump’s Election Denial Is Only Getting More Deranged.

Trump reportedly discussed invoking martial law to overturn his losing election result—a strategy one of the meeting’s attendees, former national security adviser and recent pardon recipient Michael Flynn, had recently proposed on cable television. …

…Trump’s discussion about using the military for an election redo was one of many absurd and alarming ideas floated—and strongly pushed back on—during Friday’s meeting, which “became raucous and involved people shouting at each other at times,” according to the Times. Among the more contentious topics was naming Sidney Powell, the Trump-aligned lawyer and conspiracy theorist, as a special counsel to investigate voter fraud allegations, something Trump is apparently considering. Powell, who was present at the Friday meeting, has peddled unfounded voter fraud allegations, including a conspiracy theory about an international plot to rig the U.S. election through voting machines, and was disavowed by the Trump campaign weeks ago.  …

… Another reported idea weighed during Friday’s meeting was an executive order to seize voting machines to examine them for alleged fraud, after Giuliani separately asked the Department of Homeland Security to do so earlier in the week—apparently to no avail, according to the Times, as he was told the department does not have such authority.

Today, the about-to-quit Bill Barr “said there was ‘no basis’ for seizing voting machines or appointing a special counsel to look into voter fraud, in a clear rejection of President Donald Trump’s increasingly desperate attempts to overturn the election result.”

Trump has also filed a new petition at the Supreme Court, asking the SCOTUS to throw out the election results in Pennsylvania. Yes, this is a new case, not the old one. I wonder why he’s bothering, since tossing Pennsylvania wouldn’t give Trump another term. One suspects this was filed mostly to placate Trump, who by several accounts has lost most of his connections to objective reality.

It occurs to me that if Trump has to leave the country, he might consider relocating to Venezuela. If you’ve got a ton of cash it’s probably a fine place to live.

18 thoughts on “Leaving Venezuela; or, The Power of Litigation

  1. Lou Dobbs and Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro should be ashamed of themselves.  They should have resigned before allowing the indignity of being forced to permit a truthful segment on their programs!

    Like the Maha, I never watch Newsmax (don't have it on my cable anyhow) but I do connect to the NewsMinimum and BrightFart web sites occasionally to check out the crazies.  My tv refuses to stop on the Faux News channel.


  2. What I wonder is  whether Trump is really disconnected to objective reality, or whether he has a far deeper understanding of the intricacies of human nature then he's given credit for. What some of us see as pure nonsense and utter bullshit is being perceived by others as immutable proof that Trump is the victim of voter fraud. Whatever game Trump is playing it seems to be working on a much bigger segment of the population than I ever thought possible.

  3. I'm not a lawyer – thank Dog!!! – and reading about this situation today reminds me to again ask the legal question no one has ever answered ( at.least not to.my satisfaction):

    FUX Gnu's, ONANism TV, NewsMucks, BrightFart (h/t: OldVet) along with other intertube sites, and Reich-Wing Radio, all use the PUBLIC airwaves – OUR bandwidth! – to spread their KKKonservative/RepubliKKKLAN bullshit.

    Why is this allowed?

    I remember the old "Equal Time Rule/Fairness Doctrine" kept this bullshit at bay.  But that was killed during the ("pooring") reign of St. Ronnie.  I know that there's a better chance of the Moon being made of cheese, than of reviving that important constraint.

    And I know our 1st Amendment right of free speech.

    But how is completely and purposefully misinforming our – LYING to – the public permissible.  And for profit, no less?!?

    SNL did a great skit a week ago, where two guys are on NewMax's fictional offshoot, SportsMax, where they stated that the (then winless at 0 – 13) NY Jets were the greatest team if all time, and a sure bet to win this year's Super Bowl!  Super bullshit!

    What about a WeatherMax, or a Fox Weather, where they'd tell you that it's not -3 F outside, but 85 F, and sunny:  So, a great day to wear swimming-trunks and flip-flops!  If a relative of mine lost toes or a foot due to frostbite, I'd sue the crap out of them!  I would think it should be easy to prove that the channel willingly, and purposely lied to the public (obviously not, since their bullshit goes on unabated.  Again, why?).

    These channels are lying, willingly and purposely, to people about a variety of things.

    I can understand an occasional error or false story.  But these communications entities were created, and are maintained, to spread division.  For profit!

    Why couldn't someone sue FUX Gnu's if they decided to riot to overthrow  the US government based on their bullshit?

    I don't get it.  Maybe I'm stupid when it comes to what, why, and how, a company can use the PUBLIC AIRWAVES to potentially harm the very PUBLIC they broadcast to?!?  And profit from?

    And yes, I did read where some feckin'ep eedjit of a judge ruled that viewers of (Mother)Tucker's White-Power Hour know that his show is not 100% truthful.

    Really, Judge?  Have you ever been stuck at a party with the kind of morons who watch FUX?!?  They believe the KKKonservative bullshit crook, lie, and stinkers!!!

    I. Just. Don't. Get. It!

    • As far as I know only Fox is over the air waves.  The others are cable.  It makes a difference.  In order for Rupert to broadcast over the airwaves he had to change his citizenship from Australian to American.  He also had to get congress to go along with him in the person of Ted Kennedy who did not want to abet him.  The leverage he had was that if he, Rupert Murdoch, did not own the New York Post it would close and many of the Post employees who were of Irish extraction would lose their jobs.  Cities 30 years ago typically had one upmarket paper (in the case of New York that would be the New York Times) and one down market paper (The Daily News).  Rupert loses over 100 million a year on the Post.  The value of The Post is in its power to endorse.  It creates a political environment.  Rupert needs politicians beholden to him to get approval for broadcast rights for sports where he makes money.

  4. What is funny is Barr trying to distance himself. Guess he is afraid no one will ever eat lunch with him again.

    • Barr is allergic to prison. What Trump may be contemplating and may have asked Barr to participate in is criminal. If Trump tries to set aside the election and stay past Jan 20, some folks are going to jail (and maybe the morgue.)

      If Barr has calculated that a coup attempt will fail (probability approaching certainty) Barr wants to be gone when the crime happens. 

  5. Breaking news:  Sturgis rejects Trump library

    The Sturgis city commission has rejected a request from the RNC to house the Trump library.  After a brief discussion the commission rejected the offer unanimously,  citing only the unsavory elements such an edifice might attract to the area.  

    See how easy it is to write fake news.  No wear on the shoes or time wasted chasing down verifying information.  It is a little tougher when one has to work in a Venezuela angle. You can work in a high entertainment value too if you have the correct audience.  They have a word for this type of entertainment.  It is called fiction.  Fake news is an oxymoron, which I define as two words which do not belong in close proximity to each other, such as jumbo shrimp and periodic irregularity.  I am not a lawyer either, but if these media outlets substituted the word fiction for news all their legal troubles would disappear.  

    BREAKING FICTION !!! just is not quite as catchy… even in all caps and with three slammers.  

    Oh more graveyard level humor from aPoster ( that is his pen name) from Chicagoland, USA.  Writing in response to a Michelle Goldberg NYT piece on the dismal psychological effects of the pandemic:

    I am retired, living alone 700 miles away from my nearest daughter, with no close friends. Today, as a requirement for a telemedicine appointment, I was asked how many days per week I felt despondent. I quickly became irate and, as my voice raised in pitch, declared that “it’s the middle of a pandemic!” and “only a sociopath like Trump would say they were not despondent every day of the week, right?!?” to which the intake person on the phone calmly replied, “so should I put you down for zero?”

    • I have it on good authority that The Donald is going to expand his legal team by adding everyone who he has pardoned.  His new legal adviser (the one with the Nixon tattoo on his back) is then going to provide him with the constitutionally tested defense that "if a president does it, it can NOT be illegal".

  6. MORE BREAKING NEWS!!!:   Well due to the solstice and elements who want to distract from those of us who hold this day in its most conservative fashion, is just a mere sideline.  Guess who just got fired?

    NO your guess is wrong. 

    Think harder and more internationally.  

    Yes  Trump's bankers

    Daniel Hunter, a spokesman for the bank, said in a statement that "Rosemary Vrablic and Dominic Scalzi have tendered their resignations to Deutsche Bank effective as of year-end, which was accepted by the bank."

    Vrablic and Scalzi joined the bank a decade ago, CNN reports.

    Vrablic was a trusted contact at the Trump Organization who arranged for millions in loans, according to The New York Times. 

    The Deutsche Bank has lended Trump more than $300 million, CNN noted.

    Deutsche Bank says Trump's private bankers have resigned (msn.com)

    • Vrablic is a protégé of Wilbur Ross which is why Deutsche Bank hired her in the first place.  The same Wilbur Ross who was co-chairman of the Bank of Cyprus which was identified more than 500K times in the Panama Papers as a money laundering center for Russian money.

    • OK. So Douche Bank (misspelling intentional)  reviewed the loans and found something?? questionable, unethical, probably illegal. They have to turn over everything and their position is that it wasn't policy. (See, we fired two senior people at fault.) DB is going to cover their behinds (or try) and they will throw Donald under the bus. Donald has 300 million in leverage (assuming they have loans outstanding with Trump.)  Trump will retaliate by refusing to pay when the note comes due. I'm guessing the litigation will be forced into either Deleware or New York courts. Donald will delay to the max and lose. (I'm guessing the banks may not give Donald as much leeway in stalling as he is used to.) If the loans are secured by the property, Trump will publicly lose. Donald typically lies to someone else but if Trump is being criminally prosecuted for bank fraud, who will lend Trump money? 

      Pass the popcorn.


  7. I know it’s unrelated, but since you mention Bill Barr in your article, can anyone tell me that once he’s gone, will E. Jean Carroll’s defamation suit now become more a reality because getting trump’s DNA is now possible?

  8. bidrec,

    Thanks for the info.

    Being really P-O'd yesterday, I just blurted out my complaints without much thought.

    I should have remembered about cable since I worked for the former TWC for many years. 

    Also, I know that back in the earliest days of our republic, newspapers and pamphlets that were full of propaganda and lies were printed.*

    Btw: When I was a kid in NYC, there were more major newspapers than just the Times, Post, and Daily News.  When I.lived in thecity in the 80's and 90's, I used to buy four papers every day: The three above, and Newsday.  I also bought the Village Voice every week, an occasionally, the Staten Island Advance (especially the two years I lived in that weird place).

    Ah, them was the days!

    *But I think the internet and social media hit weak-minded people on a more visceral level than do things in print.  Especially, social media.  After all, who do we trust more than friends and family?


    • Late Illinois senator Paul Simon wrote a book called Our Culture of Pandering.  The title speaks for itself but his warning was ignored.

      The most articulate and confronting piece written for a blue collar audience that I have ever read was in IBEW Local 3's paper.  The author, who was probably Thomas VanArsdale, explained why it was OK even necessary for Local 3 union electricians to cross a picket line manned by Teamster electricians at a job site in Staten Island.  The reason was that the former organization had negotiated a better deal than the latter.  Murdoch papers are not seriously serious.  They are fake serious.

  9. "It occurs to me that if Trump has to leave the country, he might consider relocating to Venezuela. If you’ve got a ton of cash it’s probably a fine place to live." 

    I think Russia is more likely. As you implied, Trump has to flee to a place that doesn't have extradition. The walls may close in from all sides starting in 2021. Trump has to appear for the beginning of a trial but the trial can conclude if Trump is in absentia voluntarily, as in, if he flees the country. That all becomes problematic since Trump has assets like Trump Tower that won't fit in carry-on luggage.

    Mike Pence has a long European trip scheduled for immediately after the Electoral College count on January 6. Some have speculated Pence wants to avoid Trump's wrath because certifying the Electoral College count is a betrayal in Trump's mind.

    If accounts are true, Trump is furious with Mike. What does that say about Trump resigning? Not likely, I'd say. Trump isn't inclined to trust anyone not named Trump. And a Trump named Mary has proved even that isn't absolute. So Trump will pardon his son, daughter and son-in-law before he pardons himself. There's two problems, The pardons of the next generation of the Trump crime family will be upheld. They all lose 5th amendment privileges if the FBI starts investigating. The pardon won't protect the kids from perjury after Jan 20.  Based on the opinions of lawyers who know this stuff, the self-pardon won't be upheld by the US Supreme Court. So Trump could get indicted for federal crimes where the testimony of his son and daughter becomes central to the prosecution. 

    If it happens, I'm a true believer in Karma.



  10. I wonder if the Trump clan are going to open their pardons on Christmas eve or on Christmas morning.

    "'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the White House not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that their pardons soon would be there. The children were nestled all snug in their grift, while visions of immunity from prosecution flowed from their upcoming gift".


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