The Lincoln Project is gearing up to sue Rudy Giuliani for defamation after he falsely linked the organization to the storming of the Capitol, Lincoln Project co-founder Steve Schmidt said Saturday.
Even former White House strategist Steve Bannon appeared nervous when Giuliani accused an unnamed member of the Republican group, which was formed to defeat former President Donald Trump, of “planning” the riot in an interview on Bannon’s podcast on Friday. Giuliani said members of the group were “wolves in sheep’s clothing,” implying they may have appeared in disguise in the violent attack.
Actual evidence shows the attack was fueled by Trump supporters, according to the FBI, who were egged on by the ex-president’s call to overturn the election at a rally shortly before the Capitol siege. Giuliani spoke to the crowd at the rally, encouraging attendees to launch a “trial by combat.”
Schmidt told MSNBC’s Ali Velshi (video above) that Giuliani went too far in the Bannon interview, and that he was “thrilled” at the prospect of the lawsuit.
“It is very difficult to sue somebody for defamation or libel in the United States, but our lawyers are telling us that Rudy is well across the line, so we’re thrilled about this,” said Schmidt, who previously was a campaign aide for former President George W. Bush and the late Arizona Sen. John McCain.
“As soon as we’re able to, we’ll take an action. It won’t be a frivolous lawsuit,” said Schmidt. “What he said was ludicrous, was untrue, was defamatory.”
The group’s attorney sent a letter Saturday warning of a lawsuit unless Giuliani publicly apologizes for his baseless accusations.
“You committed a textbook case of defamation,” said the letter sent by Matthew Sanderson. “You publicly accused The Lincoln Project of an infamous and criminal act it had nothing to do with, as you very well knew. You lied.”
Sanderson gave Giuliani until Feb. 3 to “retract your statement fully and to apologize to The Lincoln Project. Refuse at your peril.” The letter instructed Giuliani to save all documentation “related to the matter,” which would presumably be used in a lawsuit against him.
Giuliani baselessly claimed on Bannon’s podcast that “a lot of the people involved” in the “planning” of the attack on the Capitol, like “antifa and even some right-wing groups, were enemies” of Trump.
“They were doing it in order to hurt him — including some right-wing groups that operate for the Lincoln Project or have been working with the Lincoln Project at various times,” he added.
Bannon quickly interjected: “Hang on. Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa — what are you saying ‘working for the Lincoln Project?’ Right-wing groups like who?”
“One of the people who organized this is well known for having worked with the Lincoln Project in the past,” Giuliani said.
Bannon cut him off again, and asked for a name, which Giuliani refused to provide because the information was from “anonymous sources.” He said the person “worked in the past” for Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah).
“This is why we’re getting blown up all the time,” Bannon shot back. “You can’t throw a charge out there like that and say, ‘Yeah, I’ve got a double-secret probation guy who I can’t mention but he worked for Romney and he worked for the Lincoln Project.’”
Giuliani is also being sued by Dominion Voting Systems, which is seeking $1.3 billion in damages after his series of wild, fact-free claims that the company was involved in rigging the presidential election.
The lie of a stolen election “deceived millions of people into believing Dominion had stolen their votes and fixed the election,” the lawsuit alleged.
“Even after the United States Capitol had been stormed by rioters who had been deceived by Giuliani and his allies, Giuliani shirked responsibility for the consequences of his words and repeated the Big Lie,” the lawsuit stated.