Top executives and leading hosts at Fox News privately dismissed former President Donalf Trump's claims of voter fraud in the days that followed the 2020 presidential election as "total BS," according to court documents filed in Dominion Voting Systems' $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against the news network.

The release follows months of discovery and depositions that had remained private until Thursday, when the two companies filed court papers before a Delaware judge laying out each of their cases and unveiling recently gathered evidence.

Dozens of Fox News hosts, producers, and senior executives are quoted in the court documents, which include redacted communications and testimonies from depositions aimed at Trump allies, mainly attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, who spread baseless conspiracy theories about Dominion machines.

Dominion sued Fox News Networks in March 2021, alleging that the cable TV network amplified false claims that Dominion machines were used to rig the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

"From the top down, Fox knew 'the dominion stuff' was 'total bs,'" Dominion wrote in its filing. "Yet despite knowing the truth -- or at minimum, recklessly disregarding that truth--Fox spread and endorsed these 'outlandish voter fraud claims' about Dominion even as it internally recognized the lies as 'crazy,' 'absurd,' and 'shockingly reckless.'"

"Really crazy stuff. And damaging," Fox Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch said in an email weeks after the election, referencing claims that Trump lawyer Giuliani was regularly making on Fox News.

Top Fox News anchors like Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham expressed disbelief in what Sidney Powell, a pro-Trump attorney who had aggressively promoted claims of election fraud, had said at the time, too.

"Sidney Powell is lying by the way. I caught her. It's insane," Carlson wrote in one text message to Ingraham, the court filing shows.

"Sidney is a complete nut. No one will work with her. Ditto with Rudy," Ingraham responded.

Carlson wrote back "it's unbelievably offensive to me. Our viewers are good people and they believe it."

Hannity testified that "that whole narrative that Sidney [Powell] was pushing, I did not believe it for one second" — despite inviting her onto his show without challenging her claims, according to the filing.

On Jan. 6, 2021, court documents say Carlson texted that Trump is "a demonic force. A destroyer. But he's not going to destroy us."

Fox, in public statements and legal filings, has countered that the president's allegations about voter fraud were newsworthy but has, so far, unsuccessfully moved to have the case dismissed on First Amendment grounds.

"There will be a lot of noise and confusion generated by Dominion and their opportunistic private equity owners, but the core of this case remains about freedom of the press and freedom of speech, which are fundamental rights afforded by the Constitution and protected by New York Times v. Sullivan," the network said in a statement in response to the release of the court documents.

Attempts to fact-check claims of voter fraud coming from Trump and his associates on air were also not received well at the time by top Fox executives, the documents show.

As the network was broadcasting a Nov. 9 White House Press Briefing, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany continually made false statements about voter fraud, leading host Neil Cavuto to cut away, telling his viewers he could not "in good countenance continue to show you this."

Raj Shah, a Fox Corp. executive, wrote to network leadership after the episode saying Cavuto's action represented a "brand threat," according to the filing.

Dominion also noted the audience backlash Fox News faced on election night 2020, when it called Arizona for Biden, later seeing competing right-wing networks like Newsmax take advantage of the opening with the audience.

Hannity texted Carlson and Ingraham that Fox's Arizona call "destroyed a brand that took 25 years to build and the damage is incalculable." Carlson shot back that it was "vandalism."

These major defamation cases are typically settled out of court or quickly dismissed. But the Delaware judge overseeing the case has so far dismissed such requests, scheduling a five-week trial to begin on April 17.