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Alex Jones Renews ‘Deep State’ Claim at Defamation Trial (1)

Sept. 22, 2022, 9:12 PM

Combative conspiracy theorist Alex Jones doubled down on his claim that defamation lawsuits filed by the families of 26 children and educators gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School are part of a liberal plot to destroy him.

“I think this is a Deep State situation,” Jones told jurors Thursday during the second week of a civil trial in Connecticut. When asked if his credibility is the most important thing to him, the Infowars host replied: “No, crushing the globalists.”

Jurors are hearing testimony to determine how much the Internet host must pay in damages for defaming eight families and an FBI agent who responded to the scene of the 2012 school shooting by repeatedly calling the massacre a hoax. Jones already was found liable for defamation against the victims, who say his false claims encouraged his fans to harass and pursue them, turning their lives into living nightmares.

Connecticut State Judge Barbara Bellis, who ruled Jones was liable in a separate non-jury proceeding, is overseeing the case in New Haven, about 25 miles from Sandy Hook. Bellis and judges in two similar Sandy Hook lawsuits ruled against Jones for failing to turn over financial records.

Jones has repeatedly insisted his First Amendment free speech rights protect his statements, even if they were false. He claims he should be able to speak freely on topics of national importance like any other journalist. Having already been found liable, Jones isn’t legally allowed to make that argument to jurors in any of these trials, which are strictly to determine damages.

Texas Case

In the first of the three Sandy Hook defamation trials last month, a jury in Austin, Texas, ordered Jones to pay almost $50 million to the parents of one of the slain first graders.

On the stand Thursday, Jones admitted he’s blasted Bellis as a “tyrant” and mocked the Connecticut proceeding as a “kangaroo court.” He said his Infowars.com staff has added a “kangaroocourt” page so fans can follow the trial.

After a heated exchange with one of the families’ lawyers, Jones proclaimed loudly, “I’m done saying I’m sorry. I legitimately thought it might’ve been staged. I’ve apologized to the parents. I’m not apologizing to you.”

The judge then interrupted Jones, saying, “You’re in a court of law. You have to follow the rules. There is media in the room, but this is not a press conference. This is clearly not your show.”

After sending the jury home for the day, Bellis warned Jones and the lawyers on both sides that she’d hold in contempt anyone who “steps out of line” or engages in “outbursts.”

Outside the courthouse on Wednesday, Jones called the trial a “travesty of justice, and this judge is a tyrant.” He added that he was merely questioning whether government agents staged the school shooting -- with the help of “crisis actors” portraying grieving parents -- as part of a liberal plot to confiscate citizens’ guns.

“There have been a lot of staged events in history, like WMDs in Iraq, and I question every major event that we see,” Jones told reporters Wednesday.

Jurors have heard family members of the murdered children describe how Jones’s fans stalked them in person and online, threatening violence and denying their loved ones ever existed. The jury was also shown video clips of Jones telling millions of viewers the massacre never happened and was a “false flag” operation by the government.

The Law & Crime Network, which is livestreaming the Connecticut trial, disabled its comments section Wednesday, after Jones’s fans swarmed the webcast with violent threats to the families.

The case is Lafferty v. Jones, 22-05019, US Bankruptcy Court, District of Connecticut (Bridgeport).

(Updates with comments from Jones, judge.)

To contact the reporter on this story:
Laurel Brubaker Calkins in Vermont at laurel@calkins.us.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Katia Porzecanski at kporzecansk1@bloomberg.net

Steve Stroth

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.