Skip to Content

Judge shuts down Fox bid to subpoena George Soros in Smartmatic case

By Liam Reilly, CNN

(CNN) — A New York judge on Monday shut down an attempt by Fox News to subpoena George Soros, the Jewish billionaire and frequent target of far-right conspiracy theories, and search for additional links between him and Smartmatic, a voting technology company at the center of false election claims during the 2020 election.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice David B. Cohen rejected Fox Corp. and Fox News’ attempts to subpoena George Soros, his son Alex Soros, and their philanthropic organization Open Society Foundation (OSF) for documents related to the election defamation case. Soros, who has donated heavily to progressive causes, has been the frequent target of right-wing attacks, often playing into antisemitic tropes.

Fox argued that Alex and George Soros, as well as OSF, possess material necessary to the network’s defense in the defamation trial. The documentation, Fox argued, would establish a connection between George Soros and Smartmatic. But Fox’s documentation was irrelevant, the judge said, adding that the matter was peripheral.

“I base that on the finding that the crux of Smartmatic’s claims is that Fox has asserted they were part of rigging [the election], not that Smartmatic was affiliated with George Soros, Alex Soros, or the OSF,” Cohen said. “That’s a peripheral matter — at best, it’s a possible rationale for defamation.”

A Fox News spokesperson attempted to portray the hearing as a victory, telling CNN, “We are pleased that counsel for Soros and Smartmatic conceded during the hearing today that there are connections between Smartmatic and Soros, as confirmed by documents from Smartmatic and the public record.” Smartmatic did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment.

Smartmatic sued Fox Corp. and Fox News for $2.7 billion in the wake of the 2020 election, accusing the network of destroying its business prospects by promoting a false conspiracy theory that the vote was rigged. Fox has since filed a counterclaim, arguing that Smartmatic is using the high-profile lawsuit to attract investors and quell free speech.

Fox’s requests to subpoena George and Alex Soros and OSF stem from statements made by former New York mayor and Donald Trump attorney, Rudy Giuliani, as well as former Trump attorney Sidney Powell, who alleged after Trump’s electoral loss that Smartmatic has ties to George Soros.

“Why did we serve the Soros group?” Aaron Marks, an attorney for Fox, asked the courtroom Monday. “In the complaint, there are allegations by Smartmatic that Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, on the airwaves of Fox News, made defamatory remarks, largely implying that Smartmatic — a supposedly neutral and apolitical voting machine company — was rather, in fact, biased and was likely to chat in the direction of Democrats.”

Using comments made by the two former Trump associates, attorneys for Fox highlighted that Mark Malloch-Brown, a long-time friend of George Soros, chaired Smartmatic’s parent company ahead of the election and that Malloch-Brown was also a board member for OSF, which was founded by George Soros.

Attorneys for Fox alleged that comments made by Giuliani and Powell did not constitute defamation but were instead intended to question the nature of this relationship.

“We’re interested in the closeness of the relationship, what Soros has done for Smartmatic over time,” Marks said. “The evidence we got from Smartmatic about these meetings, we believe that that is pertinent for us to develop that further.”

“The picture is incomplete, and we believe we have the right to seek discovery from a non-party,” he said.

Through the subpoena, Fox sought to direct OSF to search for any mention of the key term “Smartmatic” to clarify the relationship between the voting technology company and Soros, Marks said.

Benjamin McCallen, a lawyer for Soros, said the request wasn’t actually related to the statements made by Giuliani and Powell but concerns the relationship between Soros and Malloch-Brown — which was not the issue at hand.

“They’re trying to prove something that’s not in dispute,” McCallen said, adding that Fox was using the closeness of the two men as grounds for the subpoena.

“They’re seeking any documents we have on Smartmatic generally,” McCallen said. “Fox’s argument is maybe it’s peripherally relevant, we just want them to run a search term. We are non-parties to this case and we wish to remain so.”

Correction: An earlier version of this headline incorrectly stated who Fox was attempting to subpoena. Fox wanted to subpoena George Soros.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - Business/Consumer

Jump to comments ↓

Author Profile Photo

CNN Newsource


KIFI Local News 8 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content