Giuliani acknowledges that he falsely claimed in public comments that Georgia election workers committed fraud

ATLANTA (AP) — Rudy Giuliani has admitted that he did public comments falsely claims that two Georgia poll workers committed voter fraud during the 2020 presidential election, but argues that the statements are protected by the First Amendment.

That claim by Giuliani, who was part of Donald Trump's legal team trying to overturn the results in battleground states, was filed in a lawsuit on Tuesday Ruby Freeman and Wandrea “Shaye” Moss. Their December 2021 lawsuit accused the former New York mayor of defaming them by falsely claiming they committed fraud in the vote counting at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta.

The lawsuit says Giuliani repeatedly made debunked claims that Freeman and Moss – mother and daughter – produced suitcases containing illegal ballots and committed other acts of fraud to change the outcome of the race.

Although Giuliani does not deny that the statements were false, he does not admit that they caused harm to Freeman or Moss. This distinction is important because plaintiffs in a defamation case must prove not only that a statement made about them was false, but also that actual harm was caused as a result.

Moss told the U.S. House committee investigating the Capitol riot that her life was destroyed by the false accusations. She said she received hateful and racist messages, some of which “wished me dead.” Tell me that I will be in prison with my mother. And saying things like, 'Be glad it's 2020 and not 1920.'”

Freeman said in her statement, “There is no place where I feel safe.”

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Giuliani's statement was attached to a filing in which he argued that he had not failed to provide evidence in the case and that sanctions should not be imposed, as Freeman and Moss had requested.

“While Giuliani does not admit plaintiffs’ allegations, he does not, for purposes of this litigation only, dispute the factual allegations,” the filing says.

Giuliani's political adviser, Ted Goodman, said in an email Wednesday that the filing was made “to move forward with the portion of the case that allows for a motion to dismiss.”

Michael Gottlieb, an attorney for Freeman and Moss, said in an emailed statement that Giuliani acknowledges “what we have always known to be true – Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss discharged their civic duties honorably and fully in the 2020 presidential election.” Compliance with the law fulfilled.” ; and the election fraud allegations he and former President Trump made against them were false from day one.”

Certain issues, including damages, remain to be decided by the court. Gottlieb said Freeman and Moss “are pleased with this important milestone in their fight for justice and look forward to presenting the remains of this case in court.”

Freeman and Moss filed a motion this month alleging that Giuliani “failed to take steps to preserve relevant electronic evidence.” They know such evidence exists because others have provided it to them, their filing says. They called on US District Judge Beryl Howell in Washington to impose sanctions.

In the court filing, a lawyer for Giuliani argued that his client did not fail to preserve or destroy electronic evidence “because all relevant documents were seized by the government and were in its possession, custody or control.”

In a separate case in New York, the federal government issued search warrants at Giuliani's home and office and seized his electronic devices.

The records, which Moss and Freeman said were not produced, “have not been in Giuliani's possession since their seizure in April 2021,” the court filing says, and therefore it is “physically impossible” for him to do so to destroy evidence.

Moss worked for the Fulton County Elections Department since 2012 and oversaw absentee voting during the 2020 election. Freeman served as a temporary poll worker, verifying signatures on absentee ballots and preparing them for counting and processing.

Giuliani and others claimed during a hearing before the Georgia legislative subcommittee in December 2020 that surveillance video from State Farm Arena showed poll workers committed voter fraud. As these allegations circulated online, the two women said they were subjected to intense harassment both in person and online. moss described their experiences in emotional testimony to members of Congress investigating the Capitol insurrection. The Jan. 6 committee also played video testimony from Freeman during the June 2022 hearing.

In a court filing this month, Giuliani asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that the claims against him were barred by the First Amendment's free speech protections. Howell denied that request and allowed the lawsuit to proceed.

Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith and Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who are investigating efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election results, have both expressed interest in what happened to Moss and Freeman.

Smith's team has summoned Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger's office for all Election Day videos from State Farm Arena. Willis asked for a statement about it a strange episode In it, prosecutors say a woman traveled from Chicago to Georgia in January 2021 and tried to pressure Freeman to falsely confess to committing election fraud.

The defamation lawsuit originally accused right-wing cable news channel One America News Network, its owners and its chief White House correspondent of also making the debunked claims. They were dismissed from the lawsuit in May 2022 after reaching an undisclosed agreement with Moss and Freeman.