Can a POTUS be sued for defamation?

The voting machine manufacturer Smartmatic has sued the news channel Fox News, the presenters Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro as well as the lawyers of the former US President Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell for 2.7 billion US dollars for defamation. The lawsuit was filed in a New York state court on Thursday evening. Fox News incorrectly alleged that Smartmatic was involved in electoral fraud during the 2020 US election.

"Fox News is responsible for the disinformation campaign that damaged democracy worldwide and irreversibly damaged Smartmatic and other leading voting machine manufacturers," writes Smartmatic CEO Antonio Mugica on the company's website. The 285-page complaint also states: "The election was not stolen, manipulated or predetermined." The accused had "always known these facts".

Fox News contradicted the allegations and denied to NBC News that they "seek to provide the full context of each story with detailed coverage and clear opinion. We pride ourselves on our election coverage and will vigorously defend it".

Smartmatic and other manufacturers of voting machines were at the center of spreading conspiracy narratives during the presidential election that spoke of electoral fraud involving the manufacturers. Fox News had repeatedly promoted these theories in the course of its coverage. At the end of January 2021, the voting machine manufacturer Dominion had already sued Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell for 1.3 billion US dollars each. As Donald Trump's leading lawyer, Giuliani had led the proceedings against the outcome of the US election at the legal level since November 2020.