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Settlement Reached In Dominion V. Fox Defamation Lawsuit; Dominion Attorney: Fox Agreed To $787.5 Million Settlement; Woman Killed After Friend Turned Into Wrong Driveway In NY; Homeowner Suspect Of Shooting Teen Released On Bail. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired April 18, 2023 - 16:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. We have some breaking news for you. I'm Jake Tapper.

Moments ago, we learned there is a settlement, a settlement in the high stakes trial between Dominion Voting Systems and Fox. Dominion was suing Fox for $1.6 billion, saying that the network showed complete and utter disregard for truth and facts and accuracy when they allowed guests and hosts to push false conspiracy theories that the 2020 election had been stolen from Donald Trump.

CNN's Oliver Darcy is outside the courthouse in Delaware.

Oliver, what do we know about the settlement?

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: We know right now. The judge just announced actually moments ago, Jake that this case has been settled out of court. We don't know any details about what happened. But there was this unexplained two-hour delay in court proceedings. This settlement really comes right before the clock struck midnight, Jake. Opening statements were set to begin at 1:30. They did not as scheduled, and there was an unexplained delay. Lawyers were seen going in and out of court, and now we're getting word from the judge that this $1.6 billion case has been settled by both Dominion Voting Systems and Fox News.

This, of course, averts a trial that would have been an agonizing process for Fox News. You would have seen top stars like Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson have to testify along with Rupert Murdoch, the aging Fox chairman, he's 92 years old. He would have had to come down to Wilmington, take the stand.

And so, none of that's going to happen because there has been a settlement reached. The judge just dismissed the jury, and this case is coming to a really stunning conclusion after two years of making its way through the court to the brink of trial.

TAPPER: And, Oliver, were their settlement talks in the days leading up to this trial settlement talks that didn't pan out?

DARCY: It seems that there were. Obviously, they did settle. So there must have been settlement talks.

We know that Rupert Murdoch's "Wall Street Journal" reported on Sunday evening that there was a late push by Fox to settle this case, and that was matched by a few other outlets, but the jury selection did resume earlier today, and they did get sworn in by the judge. And so it looked, you know, like this trial was going to happen, and people were, you know, going into court earlier at 1:30 for opening statements.

There was that unexpected delay. We did see our CNN's Marshal Cohen in court. He saw a Fox lawyer, take out a piece of paper and show it to Dominion lawyer. Then they went outside the courtroom. It was unclear what was discussed. But it seems right now, given the news that they were talking about a settlement, and that has been reached, really averting a really excruciating process for Fox News that was set to take place here in Wilmington, Delaware, over the next six weeks, Jake.

TAPPER: And, Oliver, I can't help but recalling that we learned after the 2020 election. That the family of that poor murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich had also reached a settlement with Fox for its lies about Seth Rich, and part of the arrangement that Fox had with the family of Seth Rich and the insane and cruel conspiracy theories they pushed what was that, A. would -- there would be an a nondisclosure agreement so the family of Seth Rich can't talk about it. And B, that news of it wouldn't even come out, Oliver, until after the 2020 election.

DARCY: Yeah, and it will be interesting to see whether a public apology is part of this settlement. We don't really have any details. Again, this just broke seconds before we came on the air, Jake.

But, you know, this is such an interesting moment. This would -- this trial would have really put Fox on trial for the election lies they told in the wake of the 2020 contest. This was really going to hold the network potentially accountable for that, so we're not going to see this public trial where people like Murdoch would have had to answer to this jury, why they allow these deranged conspiracy theories to take hold on the network's air, despite as we know, as a result of this trial, as a result of the discovery that they knew these lies were not true, they were unhinged from reality. We're not going to see that process takes place in court, Jake.


I know that there are a lot of people that wanted this process to take place in court because outside the, you know, the media defamation case, this was also a really, to some extent, a trial built about made about democracy and democracy at large and elections.

So you know this is going to avert all of that. It's going to save Fox. I think a lot more added embarrassment. But again, Jake this case has been settled outside of court. It will be interesting to see what those details are.

TAPPER: Oliver, we --

DARCY: If we ever see the details are.

TAPPER: I mean, through discovery, though, we have learned why Fox did what they did, with the release of all those text messages and emails. They allowed these lies to go forward because they were afraid that their viewers who believed the lies were going to change the channel, because they are far more about profit than they are about journalism. I mean, that's what came out in discovery, right?

DARCY: That's exactly right, Jake. This trial really underscored that Fox News lacks the most basic, basic news ethics. A lot of things that we saw would have been fireable offenses, any legitimate news organization. But at Fox, this stuff came from the top and you really saw in black and white as a result of this trial.

You saw messages where they talked about fearing the audience was going to leave to other smaller right wing talk channels like Newsmax, and saw them -- Carlson talking about the stock price tanking, really remarkable, stunning inside details in the wake of the 2020 election that it showed the panic inside of Fox News and why they protect -- but perhaps, you know, how these elections lies to take hold on the network.

You know, it gave us a view inside Fox that frankly, we have never seen before. Of course, we would have learned more during this trial, seeing someone like Rupert Murdoch being forced to take the stand and being cross examined by Dominion. But we have learned a lot about how Fox operates, the dishonest way it operates as a result of the proceedings that led up to the potential trial.

TAPPER: Right. And we also saw that when reporters like Kristin Fisher, who now works at CNN, not coincidentally, tried to fact check people at in the executive branch of Fox, other anchors, hosts in the primetime opinion hours would get mad. They would get mad when people asserted facts on their air, people in the news division.

And, in fact, a lot of people. Kristin Fisher, who's now at CNN, but also a lot of other people, like Chris Stirewalt and others who were trying to assert facts were ultimately let go from Fox.

DARCY: Yeah, I mean, it was really remarkable to read these details because not only were they promoting lies about the election, but they were disciplining staff behind the scenes for trying to tell the truth about the election. It's really showed and highlighted the fact-free universe in which Fox operates, which, actually, to some degree would have made this process of this trial of war to have happened, more agonizing for the network, because the network is used to sailing through controversies by misleading viewers, bad faith attacks on critics, attacking the media. Those things, Jake, would not have been allowed in a trial, the judge would have compelled Fox to put forth a honest, fact-based narrative for the jury.

And so that would have been a very uncomfortable position, I think for Fox, especially given the hand they had been dealt. I mean, it was very clear that they were dishonest about what happened in the wake of the 2020 election. The judge already ruled that they had broadcast false material so it would have been up to the jury basically to decide whether they had broadcast that false material with actual malice or reckless disregard for the truth.

And I got to say, and I talked to a lot of First Amendment lawyers, Dominion had really assembled evidence from messages and emails that showed that, you know, potentially they did. Crossed that line into knowingly broadcasting false material, which would have been actual malice and which would have probably resulted or potential resulted in Dominion winning this case, Jake.

TAPPER: Oliver Darcy, outside the courthouse in Wilmington, Delaware, for us, thank you so much.

So just to bring you this news, Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis has praised both lawyers for Fox and lawyers for Dominion after they abruptly settled this case. Dominion suing Fox for defamation, the case was settled at the last second. The judge saying, quote, I have been on the bench in 2010. I think this is the best lawyering I've ever had. Judge Davis went on to say, quote I would be proud to be your judge in the future. The hearing in the case are now over.

Let's bring in CNN legal analysts Laura Coates and Elie Honig.

Laura, a settlement just as the trial was set to begin, and we should remind viewers that Dominion, even though it was taking this stance against the lies of Fox, and it was taking its this stance demanding accountability from Fox, Dominion is owned by a New York private equity -- private equity firm.


And so, if they were given an opportunity to have a big check sent to them, they were probably going to take it.

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: The idea here, what you're seeing, is the power of pretrial motions, right? The emotions that you will hear that the judge will resolve before a jury ever hears anything. This is even outside of the court of public opinion, and we've seen a lot with all the things that would have been entered into evidence, text messages, confirmation that what they believed was very in contrast to what they actually said on air.

But the second, the judge said, look, you're not going to be able to cloak yourself in the First Amendment and tell this jury that everything you ever say is protected speech without consequence at all. That was really the probably the beginning of these serious settlement discussions because then the leverage and the power dynamic instantly shifted in favor of Dominion because then they all they had to prove, Jake, was not that what you said was false, check. They've already determined that. But instead, that you had either actual malice, meaning you know what you said was false, or you had every reason to believe that what you were saying was false. And you said it anyway.

And finally, you also have the notion here that you can't do a cleanup crew. The judge had already admonished the Fox team on this very point. Just because you maybe had a fact checker later on a different broadcast or at some point in the future. Try to say, well, actually, here's an alternate reality or the truth, as many of us know it. That doesn't mean you didn't either earlier, defame someone.

So this is what happens and many, many trials across the country all the time that once the reality of a jury of 12 deciding the fate to the tune of, well, a billion or more in this case, suddenly the party say, you know what? Let's be more reasonable.

TAPPER: Elie, there's -- so Fox does this not infrequently. They paid tens of millions of dollars when it came to settling sexual harassment and assault lawsuits reportedly against Bill O'Reilly. There was a big lawsuit being threatened, or at least some sort of out of state settled -- out of court settlement was reached with the family of Seth Rich.

And a lot of the details of those settlements we just do not know -- the public does not know. Will we learn the details of this settlement? If so, when, and is there a chance we'll never know?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: There is a chance we'll never know, Jake. That's really part of this settlement itself. As you said, it's quite common for litigants, including Fox News to have as part of the settlement agreement of confidentiality agreement around it, saying, no, neither side can disclose the number. Of course, we're all very interested to know the number here.

The reason that Fox settles, the reason any party settles is because jury trials are inherently unpredictable. There is inherently an element of risk here. And I think from Fox's point of view, I'm -- you know, we'll see what the price tag is here. If I had to guess I would guess it's quite hefty because they were looking at major problems.

First of all, they could get hit with an enormous verdict. If this went all the way through to a jury verdict, given the strength of the evidence against them. The second thing is they were looking at a potentially disastrous spectacle where they're leading hosts, journalists, reporters would have to take the stand to be cross- examined about their own contradictory statements. That would be absolutely devastating to Fox.

So I think you can readily understand their incentive here in settling this.

TAPPER: Laura, I'm not a lawyer. I don't know much about this kind of thing. The Dominion was doing for $1.6 billion. Is that like a realistic price tag that they could have gotten from Fox? What do you what do you think this situation?

I mean, obviously, it's all speculative. But could they have gotten $1.6 billion? What do you think they would have had to -- Fox would have had to offer to settle?

COATES: Well, Fox believe that number was grossly exaggerated and not accurate, but what it was based on according to the Dominion lawyers is the idea of either two things, every time you're assessing damage, which results in either a reputational harm or otherwise, either the profit that you stand to lose, usually there is a fixed amount of time in terms of the impact statements that are made, you're a less profitable you calculate the profit.

The other way is kind of the enterprise. Meaning what is the hit? You will take on a permanent basis to your actual business and the integrity, that you will never be able to recoup over a period of time.

It seemed that the bulk of their claim had to do with the latter of it. Not only the idea that we're going to lose is business, but that they had taken such a fatal blow to their integrity. There are actual counties as you know, we've covered here on CNN that shows no longer to use Dominion because of the allegations that were present and unfounded and that took a hit at an exponential level.


So likely, it's based on that. But as Elie talked about, juries have a mind of their own and when they believe that actual malice is involved, which could have resulted here, then you could have an even a significant one to a different tune. What that number is, we might never know.

And also, let's talk about the court of public opinion here. Listen, we all leaned in when we heard about these text messages, we wanted to know about this -- the idea of, gosh, what would this spectacle look like? And the irony that truth would actually be on trial and be what the main and star witness was and out of the mouths of those who have been accused of never having told it.

TAPPER: Elie, is there any chance that Fox would have to admit guilt or make some sort of public apology as part of this deal?

HONIG: That can absolutely be part of a negotiated settlement agreement. The reporting has been that Dominion was very interested in getting some sort of statement from Fox.

No matter what, though, Jake, I think it's really important to know, Dominion has done its job here. Even with this settlement, what they have done is a valuable public service and a couple respects.

First of all, they got a pretrial ruling from the judge that Fox's reporting was false. The judge found that the evidence here was so strong that as a matter of law, Fox's coverage was false. The only disputed evidence was going to be. Was it knowingly false?

The other thing is Dominion, by going through the discovery process here, has exposed the lies behind Fox's reporting because of Dominion undertaking this lawsuit. That's why we've seen Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson's and Rupert Murdoch's texts and emails.

And so, while Dominion hasn't gone all the way through with this to the point of a jury verdict, they certainly have done a lot to expose the mendacity behind Fox's reporting.

TAPPER: Laura, does this settlement set any kind of precedent for defamation cases in the future or not just the settlement, but the entire case. And let's -- let's be clear here. News organizations get sued all the time for defamation. Usually, the cases are thrown out of court because there is a First Amendment in this country. It's very difficult to prove defamation.

This case looked pretty solid from where I sit.

COATES: Look, everyone who has a cell phone or has texted somebody or has engaged in online written memorialized communication, this sets a standard because now the statements that are made can be contrasted with what you've said privately versus on air, which makes it a little bit easier, according to the -- this new statement here about the actual malice. It doesn't mean that you're going to prove it because somebody has a difference of opinion from what is being reported. But if they there is some knowing disregard or recklessness regard for the truth, this has a price tag with it, and it has a looming one.

And as Elie said --

TAPPER: So, I'm going to interrupt right now, I'm sorry, because I'm told the Dominion lawyers are about to speak. Let's listen in.

JUSTIN NELSON, CO-LEAD COUNSEL, DOMINION VOTING SYSTEMS LAWYER: Would you like, please? Please, just for us. Appreciate it. Thank you.

Justin Nelson from Susman Godfrey, proud counsel for Dominion Voting Systems.

The truth matters. Lies have consequences. Over two years ago, a torrent of lies swept Dominion and election officials across America into an alternative universe of conspiracy theories causing grievous harm to Dominion and the country.

Today's settlement of $787,500,000 represents vindication and accountability. Lies have consequences. The truth does not know red or blue. People across the political spectrum can and should disagree on issues even of the most profound importance. But for our democracy to endure for another 250 years and hopefully much longer, we must share a commitment to facts.

Misinformation will not go away. It may only get worse. This litigation cannot solve all problems, all of us remain ever vigilant to find common, factual ground.


Today represents a ringing endorsement for truth and for democracy.

And with that, I'd like to introduce the CEO of Dominion Voting Systems, John Poulos.


Fox and Dominion have reached on historic settlement. Fox has admitted to telling lies about Dominion that caused enormous damage to my company, our employees and the customers that we serve. Nothing can ever make up for that. Throughout this process, we have sought accountability and believe the

evidence brought to light through this case underscores the consequences of spreading lies. Truthful reporting in the media is essential to our democracy. Dominion, our employees, our people, our partners are grateful to the court for allowing us to process for the truth to come out.

I cannot thank the election officials that we serve enough. Without them, there is no democracy and the work they tirelessly due to that end. And they deserve much better. We are grateful for all the support we have received, grateful to our legal team and want to acknowledge Staple Street Capital who have been unconditional in their support of Dominion and our customers.

I want to introduce Hootan Yaghoobzadeh, principal and founder of Staples Street Capital.

REPORTER: Sir, can we just -- did Rupert Murdoch apologize to you personally?

HOOTAN YAGHOOBZADEH, PRINCIPAL AND FOUNDER OF STAPLES STREET CAPITAL: All right. I'm a cofounder of Staple Street Capital, which is investment firm that owns Dominion Voting Systems in partnership with John Poulos and the rest of the management team. It's not every day that an investment fund finds itself at the center of this type of dispute. For us, this case has always been about exposing the truth and holding those who knowingly spread lies accountable.

We are proud to play whatever part we could in helping Dominion achieve these important goals. I would also like to thank all the Dominion employees who have been through so much and stuck with the company through all this. We're all very proud of them.

I also want to thank our attorneys have both Susman Godfrey and Clare Locke for all their hard work. Without their efforts and resolve, the truth that has been exposed over the course of the last several months may have never seen the light of day. Thank you.

With that, I'd like to hand it over to Stephen Shackelford.


I am so proud to be here today representing Dominion. It's a great day for the company, although a bittersweet day for the company. As I was preparing today to give the opening that we never got to -- never got to give, I was reminded of the hell that the Dominion employees went through and continue to go through to this day.

Money is accountability. And we got that today from Fox. But we're not done yet. We've got some other people who have some accountability coming towards them. And I'm very proud of the team from Susman Godfrey that has worked tirelessly for this case. We'll move right on to the next one. Thank you.

REPORTER: Did you get apology from -- (CROSSTALK)

REPORTER: -- apology or written statement from Fox coming?

NELSON: Thank you.

REPORTER: Is there anything else? Anything on Fox air?

REPORTER: Is there anything else in this settlement besides money?

DAVIDA BROOK, ATTORNEY, DOMINION VOTING SYSTEMS: Davida Brook, Susman Godfrey. One last thank you, which is really to all of you for being with us on this journey. We appreciate what you've done to help us and to help expose what we were able to discover over the course of this process. And so thank you, and we'll see you at the next one.


TAPPER: So we just heard from lawyers representing Dominion Voting Systems after the company settled with Fox. The attorney Justin Nelson announced the deal. It's really unbelievable figure.

Fox is going to pay Dominion Voting Systems $787,500,000. Dominions lawyers saying, quote, today representative ringing endorsement for truth and for democracy, Fox trying to put a positive face on what can only be interpreted as one of the ugliest and most embarrassing moments in the history of journalism.


Fox issued a statement saying, quote: We are pleased to have reached a settlement of our dispute -- dispute -- with Dominion Voting Systems. We acknowledge the court's rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false.

The settlement reflects -- I'm sorry. This is going to be difficult to say with a straight face. This settlement reflects Fox's continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards. We are hopeful that our -- sorry. We are hopeful that our decision to resolve the dispute with Dominion amicably instead of the acrimony of a divisive trial allows the country to move forward from these issues, unquote.

Let's bring back CNN legal analysts Laura Coates and Elie Honig.

Wow. So, Laura $787,500,000, I can only assume that Fox is cutting this check because they feared that after a jury trial, not only would they have to pay more, but it would become even more obvious that they are not a journalistic organization, that they're an organization that is just chasing ratings and viewers and it doesn't really matter what they say, whether it's true or not. That's what their business model is.

COATES: Look, as my father would say, that's not chump change. You're not going to go ahead and pay that amount of money because you believe that you were ultimately truthful and that you were going to prevail. This is a huge amount of money. They probably already endured quite a bit of attorneys' fees.

This is about half, though, of the $1.6 billion that they had asked for from the Dominion side, saying that money is accountability. But let me tell you the part that made me lean in and that's when they said we're not done yet. There are others who still need accounting.

This is not the end of the road, because, remember, it's one thing you were talking about Fox News, but there were also people individuals who are also vocalizing similarities. And you asked about whether a precedent was set. You better believe that everyone who is related to this particular news organization that made these statements, knowing later with the consciousness regard also are subject to some of the similar requirements of not defaming someone.

And so if this is what Fox is willing to do, you can imagine what the individual would need to do. And it seems very clear, I'm glad they mentioned because we remember it wasn't just the company, individuals were threatened, physical harm was threatened, the lives of employees who were simply just trying to do their jobs. It's a heck of a message to send today.

TAPPER: Yeah, and there are other cases going on. I believe those two election workers in Georgia are suing the right wing website for lying about them.

Elie, the Fox statement did not have an apology to its viewers or to Dominion. It did have this one line quote. We acknowledge the court's rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false. So translated, that means Fox acknowledges that they aired and pushed lies about Dominion. Is that what that means?

HONIG: Yeah, translated, it means we got caught lying by the judge, and I think that's exactly why we are seeing this absolutely jaw- dropping number. I mean, let's be clear. This is an unequivocal rebuke of Fox News, of their reporting, of their, quote/unquote, journalism.

I don't know. I'm not exactly a historian, but I don't believe I've ever seen a jury verdict or a settlement on the amount of $787 million.

Now, yes, this is half of what Dominion was asking. But as you and I have discussed on air, I didn't think there was any way they would get $1.6 billion even when they proved their case, even if they approved it overwhelmingly to a jury.

Let's remember, by its own estimation, Dominion value the entire company at somewhere between $30 million and $80 million. This settlement is 10 times the value of Dominion as an entire company. That's how strong a statement this is with this number.

TAPPER: Yeah. And I guess that answers the question. I was going to ask Laura, which is and we noted this minutes ago before the press conference. Dominion is owned by a private equity firm. So, a $787,500,000 check worth much, much more than the company really solves the problem, right? Even though Dominion talked about the reputational damage the company

faced, they can just shut down Dominion, start again under a different name and move on, I guess.

COATES: You know the point is, though they ought not to have had to, and that's what this number suggests, and what they rebuke from the court also dictates, that this is that they did not have to, but for the lies that were told and confirmed by a judge. And remember, 12 members of a jury were going to hear things that we had heard in the court of public opinion, but likely even more things, including having anchors, having key executives take the stand and try under oath.


Remember, we always talk about you can lie to the press, right? You don't have to tell us the truth. There's not an oath for us, although you want that credibility, integrity, but a court of actual law is wildly different.

And this sets a very a very powerful precedent here. You know, the First Amendment actually means nothing if there are truly no standards or accountability, it means it's a freefall and you can say what you want and under the cloak and guys of saying it as the First Amendment.

But the First Amendment actually has restraints. It actually has things you cannot do and cannot go beyond and one of them is defamation. You cannot use your platform and to try to hide behind the First Amendment by saying lies.

And these lies had consequences to individuals, to a corporation, and don't forget the larger picture here. We're talking as we go into an election year, presidential election year from the last one, but it has people believing that somehow this company was integral in trying to promote an election related lie that did not happen.

TAPPER: Yeah, and let's remember there's still another defamation trial. I believe that Fox is facing from Smartmatic.


TAPPER: A different election technology company.

Stick around. We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back with more coverage of this breaking historic day.



TAPPER: And we are back with our breaking news coverage. Just as opening statements were set to begin in what was going to be a historic trial, Dominion Voting Systems suing Fox for defamation, lawyers on both sides reached a settlement and absolutely enormous settlement. A lawyer for Dominion announced that Fox would be paying Dominion $787,500,000. And in a statement, Fox admitted, quote: We acknowledge the court's

rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false, which translated means that yes, they spent months and months lying to their viewers about Dominion Voting Systems among other things, and as a result were in such fear of what a jury trial might create in terms of both the settlement and embarrassment for the company. They wrote a check for $787,500,000.

CNN's Oliver Darcy is outside the courthouse in Wilmington, Delaware.

Oliver, I assume we're not going to hear remarks from Fox's attorneys. One question I have is that Newsmax and OAN, which are these much smaller right wing propaganda channels, they were forced to read statements on air in which they acknowledged the falsehoods they shared with their viewers.

Is anybody who is watching Fox going to learn about this?

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: Well, Jake, the Dominion team was asked in this short press conference after the settlement was announced whether there was more to this settlement, will Fox anchors have to read statements saying that they misled viewers? Will there have to be an apology may be coming from Rupert Murdoch? Has Rupert Murdoch called and apologized?

We didn't hear anything from the Dominion side as of yet outside the money figure, and we did hear Dominion attorney say that money is accountability. So unclear whether we're going to get more from the outside that Fox statement you just read, which is basically acknowledges what the court said, which is that they did tell lies on their channel.

I also think it's important to keep in mind, Jake, that Dominion wasn't the only voting technology companies suing Fox News. You also have Smartmatic, which has filed two against Fox News. For more than $2 billion, and so that's making the way through the core system as well.

Smartmatic actually just put out a statement their lead attorney. I want to read it to you, Jake. We just got this.

He said: Dominion's litigation exposed some of the misconduct and damaged caused by Fox's disinformation campaign. Smartmatic will expose the rest.

And so, there is more litigation, Jake, for Fox News to deal with down the line, but still $787 million is not -- is not a small figure for Fox to have to shell out for those lies.

TAPPER: No, and as was noted earlier by Elie Honig, the company isn't even worth $100 million, much less $787,500,000.

Oliver Darcy, thanks so much. Keep telling us news as it develops.

Let's bring back CNN legal analysts Laura Coates and Elie Honig.

Elie, and what do you make about the fact that the settlement amount was not confidential? I'm sure Fox would have preferred that it was.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Of course, this is a really surprising and important detail here, Jake, that the amount is not confidential. And that's why we just saw Dominion get out and proudly announced this really astonishing figure. I mean, it is, as we just said, it is 10 times what Dominion is worth.

And so, this dollar figure is, of course, about the bottom line like you noted. Dominion is not a large company. It's a privately held company. They have about 202, 250 employees. This is an overwhelming amount of money.

But it's also a statement. It's also about the message that this dollar amount sends to Fox News into the public about Fox News' lies.

TAPPER: Laura, Oliver mentioned that Fox is still facing this other major defamation lawsuit from Smartmatic, another voting technology company that was smeared by Fox after the 2020 election. That case is still in the discovery process. How might this, as far as I can tell, historic settlement $787,500,000, how might that affect the Smartmatic case?

COATES: Well, it's about 700, what, 85 million tea leaves now to read for the other legal team defending against this action and all Smartmatic.

Remember what's really important about this is this number is not appealable. It's not as if it was a jury. Verdict in the finding of damages where they can then go back and then litigate through a protracted proceeding and try to maybe even take it all up the Supreme Court and a variety of ways. This is what they have agreed upon, and they are stuck with this number.

It will also factor in, though, if you're talking about Fox News and what their overall bottom line will be. If you imagine what kind of pool of money you're going to have access to, in order to be able to pay out settlement, you're factoring in not just before you in front of you on this main plate of this trial, but what might be down the road.

And it's going to significantly impact what is now available as part of that overall pot down the road. And so this shaving of about half of the amount that was requested before now opens up more room for Salman opportunities for Smartmatic to then say, well, hold on, I'll take the other half that you may have been willing to pay, and anyone else who comes along.

It does not guarantee they'll get it. But it does sweeten the power dynamic and leverage that now Dominion has to say, if we can get one judge to essentially say what you have said is a lie. The jury will not even hear your argument about why it's not a lie or the first amendment that bodes well for their ability to persuade the next set of litigants about this issue.

TAPPER: Elie Honig, Laura Coates, thanks to both of you. Appreciate it. New reaction coming in after the $787 million settlement was reached in the Dominion lawsuit against Fox.

Also, ahead Americans very quick to pull the trigger. Now one young woman is dead and a young man's life is forever changed. New information in that case from Kansas City next.



TAPPER: The big breaking news this hour, a $787,500,000 settlement reached in Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit against Fox. Fox agreeing to that historic paycheck in light of all of the lies that channel allowed, pushed during and after the election of 2020.

We're going to have more from Wilmington, Delaware, in a moment, but let's turn to our national lead right now. Two cases of young Americans shot only because they accidentally showed up at the wrong house.

A New York man has been charged with second degree murder after police say he fired two shots into a car that had turned into his driveway on Saturday night. Officials say the group and the car realized they were at the wrong home in their rural New York neighborhood, north of Albany, and we're trying to leave when one of the shots killed 20 year old Kaylin Gillis.

The shooting happened just days after a Black teenager in Kansas City, Missouri, was shot twice by a White homeowner after going to the wrong address to pick up his little brothers.

We're covering both of these shocking incidents, starting with CNN's Lucy Kafanov in Kansas City.

And, Lucy, the suspect in the case in Kansas City, 84 year old Andrew Lester, he turned himself into police this afternoon. But we're learning he was -- he was just released?

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake. I mean, the story keeps changing by the hour. This morning, we were wondering when this 84-year-old suspect maternal himself in. He finally did.

We just learned that he has posted bond and been released, according to the sheriff's office spokesperson. Bail was apparently set at $200,000. Some of the conditions included prohibiting Lester from possessing weapons of any type.

He may not have any direct or indirect contact with Ralph Yarl, the 16-year-old who he was accused of shooting and Lester's phone is now subject to monitoring and it is not clear at this point, Jake, whether Lester is going to appear in court for an initial hearing. We're obviously trying to continue to speak to the legal representation of Lester.

In terms of the charges that he's facing, we know that he is, this is five days after he allegedly opened fire on this teenager for showing up at the wrong address. He is apparently facing two charges he could be if convicted on those charges facing life behind bars.

We know that he has been accused of shooting Ralph Yarl through a glass storm door with a 32 caliber revolver, according to a probable cause statement that CNN obtained, Lester told investigators that he was in bed, that night on April 14th when he heard the doorbell ring.

He apparently grabbed this weapon walked up to the door. He said, after opening him the main door, he, quote, saw a Black male, approximately six feet tall, and he believed, quote, someone was attempting to break into the house and shot twice within seconds of opening the main door. Lester said no words were exchanged. Ralph Yarl told officers that he heard the man say, don't come around here before shooting him twice.

We are right now by city hall where we are expecting a protest in support of Ralph Yarl to begin any second now -- Jake.

TAPPER: Lucy Kafanov in Kansas City, Missouri, thanks so much.

Let's go to New York now where we find CNN's Brynn Gingras.

Brynn, walk us through what exactly happened when this 20-year-old woman was shot in upstate New York?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. So, Jake, according to the sheriff's department there, it was not just one car. There was actually a several groups of cars, two and a motorcycle, that pulled up this driveway after kind of going up and down the street with no GPS access, because there's not great cellphone reception in that area of New York. Headed up this driveway, realized quickly they were not at the home they are trying to reach and then quickly decided to leave.

And that's when they say shots were fired at the cars and the motorcycle as it was leaving. One of those shots hitting right there, you see her 20-year-old Kaylin Gillis. She actually died about five miles from the scene of that shooting as her friends raced away from the scene, trying to get cell phone reception, calling 911, paramedics arrived and she died there at the scene.

Now, I did talk to the attorney for the man who is charged in this case. That man's name is Kevin Monahan. He's 65 years old. He's still awaiting a bail hearing on a second degree murder charge.


Now, his attorney says he actually believes he was threatened by this group that approached his house. Now I brought that to the sheriff, and he says that's just not possible ballistic show that he fired these shots as the group was leading us those witness accounts.

So it will be certainly interesting to see how this case plays out in the court system. But, of course, at the end of the day here, Jake, there is a 20-year-old that has died because of this senseless tragedy.

I want to read a statement that was given to me from her family talking about Kaylin. They said: Kaylin was a talented artist, an honor student, a Disney fanatic and loved animals. She was looking forward to starting college in Florida to pursue her dream of becoming a marine biologist. She was taken from us far too soon, and we are devastated. And there was a GoFundMe page for that family, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Brynn Gingras, thank you so much.

Let's bring in CNN contributor Stephen Gutowski. He's the founder of "Reload" that covers guns and gun policy in the U.S.

So, Stephen, let's start with Brynn just left off this case out of Upstate New York. I don't know what the laws are in every state. There's "stand your ground" laws, which allows firearms and self defense if you think that you're being threatened, the castle doctrine.

Does it -- do either of them legally allow individuals just to shoot people for coming on their property?

STEPHEN GUTOWSKI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No, I mean, bottom line, they don't. What stand your ground laws do and castle doctrine, they're related to some extent. Stand your ground is about limiting the duty to retreat, once you have already established that there is a reasonable threat to your life. So, in essence, you can use deadly force if you reasonably believe fear for your life without having to retreat or something --something along those lines.

The castle doctrine essentially says that once someone has unlawfully entered your home, someone has broken in, you can assume that that person is a deadly threat, and move forward from there. You don't have to --

TAPPER: If they're in your home?

GUTOWSKI: If they're in your home, or if they're trying to break in, this may be relevant in the Kansas City case because of what the shooter there has claimed. But I think in both of these situations, it's going to be extremely difficult for these two shooters to meet the reasonableness standard for a jury, you know, in the case.

TAPPER: Yeah. Let's talk about the Kansas City case because the suspect in that case has been charged after media attention, we should note. They hadn't charged him and he only did like two hours in the police, in the -- in the police station before being allowed to go home after shooting this young man.

This shooter in Kansas City, he told police he was, quote, scared to death because of Ralph Yarl's size. He's about six feet tall. I guess he's 16 years old.

A six foot young man showing up at somebody's door, knocking on it, trying to open it, that's what the shooter alleges happened. He was trying to open the door. I have -- I have no idea if that happened or not, but even that, is that a threat? Is that -- does that constitute -- is that enough justification to use deadly force?

GUTOWSKI: Probably not. I will say that there's obviously a disparity between the two of them because he's 84 years old and smaller and more frail that that could create a situation that that a jury just looks at more favorably to someone who, you know, if you are equal size and someone threatens you, that's different than if you're of equal, you know, fighting strength than someone --

TAPPER: Although, we have -- we -- I mean, but we should just know he hasn't even alleged that the guy -- that Yarl is threatening him. It was just that maybe he was trying, you know, knocking on the door.

GUTOWSKI: And this is where the big problem comes in I think for this shooter because he opened the door, he sees someone he claims was trying to get in through a locked screen door -- nuts, glass door, storm door, and then he shot him through the locked door and I think it's going to be very hard for anyone in a jury to believe that there was a reasonable fear for life at that moment when he pulled that trigger, and that's going to be a big key in both of these situations.

And driving away, you shoot at a car that's driving away from you. How are you going to establish that that's -- that you reasonably feared for your life when they were leaving?

TAPPER: Right.

GUTOWSKI: And how can you say that somebody was threatening your life when you didn't even exchange word -- a single word with them and you're there behind the door that's locked. It's very hard to see, given what we know now. There may be more information that comes out to change the story, but it's difficult to see how these end up as justified shootings.

TAPPER: All right. Stephen Gutowski, thank you so much, really appreciate you coming in. Thanks for being patient with the breaking news. Appreciate it.

We're going to go back live to Delaware, next, with new reactions coming in after attorneys for Dominion Voting Systems reached $787,500,000 settlement with Fox. Fox writing a big fat check for all those lies.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

This hour, beaten inside a Russian penal colony. Lawyers for Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny say that Putin critic was dragged and kicked by prison guards. Now, Navalny is facing new charges that could add time to his sentence. We're going to talk to the vice president of Navalny's anti-corruption foundation coming up. Plus, for a second day, word of major charges from the Justice

Department. U.S. citizens allegedly working as illegal foreign agents yesterday was China. This time, it's agents of the Russian government.

And leading this hour, just as opening statements were set to begin. A blockbuster settlement was announced the Dominion's defamation lawsuit against Fox. Fox cutting a huge check $787,500,000 for its lies paid from Fox to Dominion, along with an admission from Fox that, yeah, they aired lies to its viewers, in the aftermath of the 2020 election.

CNN's Danny Freeman is outside the courthouse in Wilmington, Delaware.

And, Danny, Dominion's lawyers are celebrating this mindbogglingly large settlement, but we still don't know all the full details.