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Why it matters that Kari Lake won’t defend her statements in defamation suit

As Arizona’s Kari Lake prepares to lose a closely watched defamation case, she has quite a bit of company among Republican election deniers.

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Arizona’s Kari Lake has found herself at the center of several recent court cases, and none has gone her way. The Republican election denier first went to court in April 2022, asking that some local counties be blocked from using electronic election equipment. That lawsuit failed. In the wake of her defeat in a gubernatorial race, Lake filed another lawsuit, ostensibly to present evidence of election irregularities. That didn’t go well, either.

And then, of course, there’s the defamation case she’s now facing, which as NBC News reported, appears poised to become Lake’s latest defeat.

Kari Lake, a prominent election denier running for a Senate seat in Arizona, has decided not to contest her liability in a defamation suit brought by a Republican election official in Maricopa County. ... Lake’s legal team on Tuesday filed a default judgment motion that indicated she was not challenging her culpability. She instead seeks to dispute the damages.

If you’re new to this story, Lake, in the aftermath of her 2022 defeat, took rhetorical aim at Republican election officials in Maricopa County, accusing them of helping “rig” the state’s gubernatorial race and manipulating ballots. One of the GOP officials, Steven Richer, soon after filed suit, arguing that Lake’s false claims not only hurt his professional life and harmed his reputation, but also led to death threats against him and his family.

Lake’s attorneys tried to have the case thrown out. Those efforts failed. Now, the former gubernatorial candidate — who’s currently running for the U.S. Senate — is prepared to stop trying to deny responsibility for her own rhetoric.

This matters to the extent that it won’t do her 2024 statewide campaign any favors, but there’s also a larger pattern to keep in mind as the defamation case reaches a new stage.

Rudy Giuliani faced a defamation case, lost, and was hit with a severe financial penalty. Donald Trump faced defamation cases, lost, and was hit with severe financial penalties. Fox News faced a defamation case, settled, and was hit with a severe financial penalty. (It was a different kind of case, but pillow guy Mike Lindell was recently hit with a severe financial penalty of his own.)

As a Washington Post analysis summarized, “The Trump political movement has long had a truth problem. That has now manifested itself as a very expensive defamation problem.”

This post updates our related earlier coverage.

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