Election workers in Georgia demand “tens of millions” from Giuliani

One of her lawyers said Freeman plans to take the stand and describe the emotional pain caused by Giuliani's attacks, including nightmares about killing her and her family. And Moss wants to describe how she walked out of a job interview at Chick-fil-A — after giving up her eight-year career as a poll worker — when the manager confronted her with news articles detailing Giuliani's false accusations.

As the case began Monday, jurors also heard harrowing audio recordings of racist and violent phone messages and saw the text of emails, some of which reflected the false accusations Giuliani and Trump made against Freeman and Moss as Trump tried to to undermine his 2020 election defeat. Many of the messages contained racial slurs, including the N-word, which occurred repeatedly in court and was quoted loudly by another of the couple's attorneys, Von DuBose.

U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell, who is presiding over the trial, has already found that Giuliani defamed Freeman and Moss and caused them emotional distress. Howell issued the ruling in August as a sanction for her finding that the former New York mayor and federal prosecutor had intentionally hidden evidence from them, including evidence about his assets.

The jury's only job is to decide Giuliani's punishment – a dollar amount they can associate with the harm he caused, as well as additional “punitive damages” intended to deter others from acting similarly in the future.

Giuliani targeted Freeman and Moss in remarks to Georgia lawmakers in December 2020, falsely claiming that video evidence showed them tampering with ballots at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta. The accusation spread like wildfire among Trump's allies, who were looking for evidence of voter fraud that could give Trump an excuse to challenge the results — and they persisted even after Georgia election officials debunked them. Trump himself escalated the attacks on Moss and Freeman by raising them in a phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on January 2, 2021.

Giuliani is seeking a sensational financial verdict and is asking the jury to consider whether the suffering of Freeman and Moss could really be directly linked to him.

Giuliani's lawyer, Joseph Sibley, began his brief opening statement by immediately admitting that his client was “wrong” to accuse Freeman and Moss of fraud, although he quickly attributed that admission to the verdict Howell had already given had liked.

“There's really no question that these plaintiffs were harmed,” Sibley said, calling them “good people.” “They didn’t deserve what happened to them.”

However, Sibley called the amount of damages the pair are seeking “truly incredible” and made clear that Giuliani's defense will primarily aim to claim that the chaos and fear that befell them in December 2020 The chaos and fear are not solely the fault of Giuliani, Trump or officials in the Trump campaign.

“What happened to them was due to a controversy involving many people. It wasn’t just Mr. Giuliani,” Sibley said during his six-minute opening. “You'll see a lot of evidence of harm … but not a lot of evidence that Mr. Giuliani was the cause.”

If the jury awards Moss and Freeman the requested damages, he said, “That will be the end of Mr. Giuliani.”

The campaign workers' lawyers plan to call a media analysis expert to try to link many of the threats and insults the couple has received to specific phrases or media appearances by Giuliani and others he worked with on the Trump campaign bring.

Trump is not a defendant in the lawsuit, but is expected to play an important role in the case. Lawyers for Moss and Freeman called his social media megaphone the most powerful on the planet and noted that he used it to amplify Giuliani's attacks.

A photo of Trump and Giuliani leaning toward each other was shown on television screens in the courtroom, while a lawyer for Freeman and Moss described what Howell had already described as a “civil conspiracy” to defame the couple and cause them emotional distress.

“The plan was successful because he had the most powerful amplifier in the world at his disposal,” Gottlieb said. “President Donald J. Trump’s social media account.”

Lawyers for Moss and Freeman said it is necessarily subjective to put a dollar value on the damage the women suffered, but they plan to present evidence from an expert to quantify it. Her damage included Freeman having to leave her home due to security threats, having to rename her business and go into hiding. Moss had to quit her job as a poll worker and struggled to find other work. Both women memorably testified about similar struggles when they appeared before the House Select Committee on January 6 last year.

Gottlieb asked the jury to consider “how unnecessary and cruel” it was for Giuliani to “paint public officials as fraudsters and criminals without evidence, knowing that millions of people will believe and act on these lies.”