On CNN, Marshall Cohen reports on Smartmatic claims that OAN may have engaged in criminal activities

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Citation From January 29, 2024, CNN, CNN News Central

JOHN BERMAN (CNN HOST): Alright, new this morning, the voting technology company Smartmatic is accusing executives at the pro-Trump network, One America News of quote, engaging in criminal activities while promoting lies about the 2020 election. Court filings suggest the president of the network sent an email to former Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell purportedly containing the passwords of Smartmatic employees. CNN's Marshall Cohen, a part of the team that broke this story. Marshall, What have you learned here?

MARSHALL COHEN (CNN CORRESPONDENT):  Good morning, John. This is a pretty wild story, indeed. So, according to court filings after the 2020 election, the president of OAN, Charles Herring, sent a spreadsheet to former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell claiming to contain passwords of Smartmatic employees. This came at a time when OAN and Powell were promoting those baseless conspiracy theories that Smartmatic had rigged the 2020 election. Now, the details about this spreadsheet have not been made public before. We pieced together the story from three different court cases stemming from the 2020 election. In one of those cases, Smartmatic is suing OAN for defamation, and in a recent filing, Smartmatic referenced the email between Herring and Powell. It's unclear how Herring got that spreadsheet or if the passwords were real, but Smartmatic says this all means that OAN executives may have engaged, quote, in criminal activities because they appear to have violated state and federal laws regarding data privacy. Now, John, OAN denies wrongdoing. I want to be very clear about that. Charles Babcock, an attorney for the network, told CNN in a statement that this, quote, vague accusation is a clumsy attempt to smear OAN and divert attention away from Smartmatic's own misconduct. Now that email was sent in January, 2021, just one day after the voting systems in Coffee County, Georgia were breached by some of Sidney Powell's associates. They were looking for evidence that would prove their fraud claims and Powell has pleaded guilty to state charges in Georgia stemming from that breach. John?

BERMAN: So, Marshall, Smartmatic's got a lot of legal irons in the fire. What else is cooking?

COHEN: It is bigger than OAN. They have targeted a wide swath of the right-wing figures that basically turned on a fire hose of disinformation after 2020. You can see the list here. Newsmax, Fox News, Sidney Powell, Mike Lindell – the My Pillow CEO. And they got a big boost last week too, John, when a state judge in New York City ruled that they can expand their Fox News case to not only go after Fox News, but also Fox Corporation, the parent company. That could really ratchet up the pressure for the Murdochs as Smartmatic continues to try to hold them accountable for this avalanche of 2020 disinformation, John.

BERMAN: Marshall Cohen, terrific reporting. Great to see you.