On Tuesday afternoon, when Judge Eric Davis announced that Dominion Election Systems and Fox News “had resolved their case,” averting what was scheduled to be six-week trial, the immediate question was: how did Dominion, which was projecting the upmost confidence leading up to trial, end up settling for $787.5 million—half of its original lawsuit?
We’re now getting a fuller picture of the behind the scenes negotiations that led to the eleventh-hour settlement—one brokered over the course of a day, as the Wall Street Journal first reported, by mediator Jerry Roscoe, who was vacationing in Romania at the time. Roscoe has since gone on the record with the Journal, as well as CNN and the Washington Post, about being asked to help on Sunday whilst on a cruise on the Danube River celebrating his 70th birthday. “He negotiated from an AmaWaterways cruise from Budapest to Bucharest, a tour bus, where he sat in back, speaking into his phone with his coat over the mouthpiece to maintain secrecy, and at his hotel in Brasov, Romania,” the Journal reported, noting that he had picked Bosnia for a vacation because he had served as a mediator for the US during the war in Bosnia and wanted to revisit the region “when people weren’t shooting at me.”
Davis was also an important player. The Washington Post reports that the judge “implored” the lawyers for both companies to “see if they could find common ground” following last Friday’s pretrial hearing. According to CNN, the lead trial attorneys, Justin Nelson for Dominion and Dan Webb for Fox, had tried to reach a settlement over the weekend, prior to Roscoe’s enlistment, but were “really far apart.” Then came a Sunday morning email to Roscoe, who recalled the contents to the Post: “Would I be willing to mediate an important case?” In interviews, Roscoe said that he spent the next day poring over the material to prepare. “Next thing I knew I was reading a thousand court transcripts and pleadings,” he told the Journal.
Davis was notified that the parties had hired Roscoe, who works with the dispute-resolution provider JAMS, late on Sunday night, per CNN. Soon after, he announced the start of the trial would be delayed by one day, without providing details. The Journal was the first to report Sunday that the Fox was making a push to settle the case. Already the network’s reputation had taken a blow; damning internal communications revealed during the discovery process showed top executives, producers, and talent mocking some of the election-fraud claims that they were airing on their network. At one point in his deposition, Rupert Murdoch appeared to concede that Fox hosts “endorsed” Donald Trump’s election lies. And people inside Fox were growing increasingly anxious about the prospect of their personnel taking the stand. According to CNN, Dominion last week notified Fox News that Murdoch would be one of its first witnesses, along with host Tucker Carlson.
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