Fox News host Sean Hannity, who invited guests on his program to peddle false claims of election fraud in the weeks after former President Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election to President Joe Biden, told a courtroom on Wednesday that he never believed the lies that he perpetuated on his show.
Hannity made his comments during a pre-trial court hearing in Delaware. Dominion Voting Systems, which supplied voting machines in several states and which has been falsely accused of interfering with the 2020 election by Trump loyalists, is suing Fox News for defamation over its role in disseminating lies about their product.
On November 30, 2020, nearly four weeks after the 2020 election, Trump-aligned lawyer Sidney Powell appeared on Hannity’s Fox News program, wrongly stating that Dominion’s machines “trash[ed] large batches of votes” for Trump to help secure Biden’s win. Powell claimed that the company was doing so in coordination with the Venezuelan government.
There is no evidence that the company ever manipulated ballots or worked with foreign countries to change the results of any election.
Hannity acknowledged the absurdity of Powell’s comments in court earlier this week. “I did not believe it for one second,” Hannity said under oath.
In order to prove that Fox News engaged in defamation, Dominion will have to demonstrate that the conservative media channel deliberately spread false and disparaging claims about their company, resulting in harm to their brand. Hannity’s comments suggest that at least a few Fox News employees were aware that the election fraud claims were untrue and decided to broadcast them anyway.
The trial against Fox News is set to officially start in April. Hannity’s comments on Wednesday were part of a pre-trial deposition to address several issues that have to be resolved before the trial begins.
Although Fox News and other right-wing outlets have decreased coverage of baseless claims of election fraud, Trump continues to wrongly insist that election fraud was responsible for his loss to Biden two years ago.
In a Truth Social post on Wednesday, Trump falsely claimed that Twitter had interfered with the 2020 presidential election. In the same post, he claimed, without evidence, that the Obama administration “spied” on his campaign during the 2016 presidential election cycle.
Trump then vaguely suggested that the remedy for these alleged abuses was to remove Biden from office, which would presumably reinstate him as president.
“What should be done about such a terrible thing, or should we let someone who was elected by cheating and fraud stay in office and continue to destroy our Country?” Trump asked in his post.
Earlier this month, Trump called for the U.S. Constitution to be “terminated” so that he could be reinstated as president — a suggestion that should disqualify him from running for president in 2024, legal experts have said.
“Trump’s announced intention to trash the United States Constitution means he can never be trusted to obey the Constitution’s Oath to preserve and protect it,” Harvard Law professor emeritus Laurence Tribe said at the time.