Steve Bannon, Michael Flynn must answer questions in Smartmatic US defamation case

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By Jack Queen

(Reuters) - Steve Bannon and Michael Flynn, two allies of former U.S. President Donald Trump, must answer questions under oath in voting technology company Smartmatic's defamation lawsuit against right-wing media outlet Newsmax, court records showed on Wednesday.

Florida-based Smartmatic served subpoenas on Bannon, who served as a White House strategist under Trump, and Flynn, who briefly served as national security adviser, on Wednesday, according to documents filed in Delaware state court.

Bannon and Flynn, both of whom have faced their own legal woes, were two of the most vocal boosters of Trump's false claims that the 2020 U.S. election was stolen from him through widespread voting fraud, and they could have information on the spread of these claims that might help Smartmatic in the litigation.

Smartmatic has accused Newsmax of knowingly spreading false claims that the voting software maker was part of a scheme to rig the election against Trump, who was seeking re-election, and in favor Democratic rival Joe Biden, who won.

The company is seeking a total of $2.7 billion in damages across five cases, including against Fox, several of its hosts and former Trump lawyers. Smartmatic's case has played out alongside a similar defamation lawsuit against Fox News and Fox Corp by Dominion Voting Systems, which settled on the eve of trial in April for $787 million.

Bannon and Flynn representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment, nor did Smartmatic and Newsmax.

A trial date has not yet been set in the Smartmatic case. Representatives of both companies previously have declined to say whether they are in talks over a possible settlement.

Bannon, an influential figure on the American right, worked on Trump's 2016 campaign and later in the White House. He now hosts a podcast. Bannon last year was convicted of contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from the committee that investigated the 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters.

Bannon separately was charged in 2020 with defrauding donors to a private fund-raising effort to boost Trump's project to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border. Trump pardoned Bannon before that federal case went to trial. Bannon now is set to go on trial next year on state criminal charges related to the wall scheme.

Flynn is a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general who served as Trump's first White House national security advisor until he stepped down after only a few weeks on the job amid revelations that he misled then-Vice President Mike Pence about his communications with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

Trump also pardoned Flynn, who had twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during the federal investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

(Reporting by Jack Queen; Editing by Will Dunham)

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