The New York Times published a striking front-page report last week with a headline that read, "Trump Campaign Knew Lawyers' Voting Machine Claims Were Baseless, Memo Shows." As the article detailed, Donald Trump's political operation carefully examined key election conspiracy theories, found them to be baseless, and prepared an internal memo on the findings.
Trump's lawyers, of course, pushed the falsehoods anyway.
We learned of this, not through a whistleblower or investigative reporting, but because of a defamation lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems employee, who was targeted by the former president's team.
As we've discussed, however, there's no reason to believe this memo will be the only relevant revelation. On the contrary, the Coomer vs Trump Campaign case has also produced depositions from a variety of political players who were also involved in propagating nonsensical claims about the 2020 election. They've already answered questions, under oath, about their role in spreading conspiratorial falsehoods.
Take Rudy Giuliani, for example.
In this same defamation case, attorneys sat down with Donald Trump's infamous lawyer last month and asked about the origins of the Republican conspiracy theories, specifically related to voting machines — a core element of the GOP's anti-election push. As part of the deposition process, Giuliani, among others, was required to answer questions under oath, which in turn offers the public a window into how the nonsense became an animating principle for the former president and his allies.
The core question for the former New York City mayor was simple: Where did all this weird stuff come from? Giuliani was asked, for example, about media reports in which he said he'd relied on some media accounts and social media posts in order to go after a Dominion Voting Systems executive. Giuliani responded that he couldn't remember if it was Facebook or some other platform. "Those social media posts get all one to me," he said.
Giuliani added that he couldn't think of anything else "that I laid eyes on." This was itself amazing: Before going public with anti-election conspiracy theories, Giuliani's due diligence involved reading some stuff via social media — though he's not sure which platform.
The former president's lawyer also told the public he knew of a witness who could bolster the allegations against Dominion. In the deposition, Giuliani conceded that he didn't actually speak to the alleged witness, but he thinks someone else on Team Trump probably did.
Giuliani also said he didn't have any information about the alleged witness' credibility, and didn't make an effort to check. From the transcript:
"It's not my job in a fast-moving case to go out and investigate every piece of evidence that's given to me. Otherwise, you're never going to write a story."
He added that he didn't have the time to check whether the alleged witness' claims were reliable before sharing them with the public.
Rachel summarized Giuliani's message this way: "I read some stuff — I think it was maybe on Facebook — I laid it out to the public as what we knew to be the facts, and no, I had no idea if it was true or not. I didn't even try to check. Why would I try to check? You wouldn't have a story then."
At face value, it's tempting to laugh at the absurdity of Giuliani's deposition. Similarly, it's hard not to wonder how much longer he'll be permitted to have a law license.
But let's not forget that the bonkers conspiracy theories Giuliani and his associates pushed weren't just lies, they were toxins that entered the political world's bloodstream. The political system's resulting sickness isn't going away.