Giuliani loses defamation lawsuit from two Georgia election workers


A federal judge has found that Rudy Giuliani lost a defamation lawsuit brought against him by two Georgia election officials after he failed to provide information sought in subpoenas.

The decision could lead to significant penalties for Donald Trump's former lawyer.

In court in recent weeks, Giuliani said he could no longer deny that he made false and defamatory statements about Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss – who are just a group of plaintiffs pursuing him for defamation related to his work for Trump the 2020 election.

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Giuliani said he struggled to maintain his own access to his electronic records – in part because of the cost – and did not adequately respond to subpoenas for information from Moss and Freeman as the case progressed.

“Perhaps he has made the calculation that his overall litigation risks will be minimized by failing to comply with his disclosure obligations in this case,” Judge Beryl Howell of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., wrote Wednesday. “Whatever the reason, the obligations are case specific and withholding required disclosure in this case has consequences.”

The judge noted in his ruling against Giuliani on Wednesday that election officials may seek to show that his false claims about the 2020 election were, to some extent, intended to enrich themselves, an argument that could come up in the damages trial . Moss and Freeman are seeking unspecified damages after they say they suffered emotional and reputational harm and had their safety compromised after Giuliani singled them out when he made false claims of vote-rigging after the 2020 election in Georgia.

A trial to determine the amount of damages for which Giuliani will be liable is expected to be scheduled later this year or in early 2024, Howell said Wednesday.

The damage could amount to thousands, if not millions, of dollars.

Giuliani has already been fined nearly $90,000 for Freeman and Moss' legal fees in the case, and Howell says the former New York mayor may face additional similar sanctions.

Michael Gottlieb, an attorney for Moss and Freeman, told CNN's Kaitlan Collins on Wednesday evening that Giuliani has not yet paid legal fees and that they will pursue a damages lawsuit “in the coming months” that could result in the former mayor To do this will have to pay “tens of millions of dollars”.

“We expect this to be a significant damages case that we will present to the jury, and we are confident that we can document it and prove it,” Gottlieb said in The Source.

Giuliani is struggling financially and is buried under litigation over the 2020 election, a new criminal case against him in Georgia related to attempts to overturn the election and other matters. He pleaded not guilty to criminal charges in Georgia and was released from prison on bail.

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In a statement, Moss and Freeman expressed gratitude for Howell's decision.

“What we went through after the 2020 election was a living nightmare,” the couple said. “Rudy Giuliani helped unleash a wave of hatred and threats we could never have imagined. It cost us our sense of security and our freedom to live. Nothing can restore everything we have lost, but today’s verdict is another neutral result that confirms what we always knew: that there was no truth to any of the allegations against us and that we did nothing wrong.”

The couple concluded: “The fight to rebuild our reputations and repair the damage to our lives is not over.”

Ted Goodman, a political adviser to Giuliani, said in a statement that Howell's decision was “a prime example of the weaponization of our justice system, where trial is punishment.” Goodman added that Giuliani was “wrongfully accused” of failing to preserve his own records and that he wanted Howell's decision reversed.

Giuliani had only turned over fewer than 200 relevant documents, a single page of notices, a few legal responses, a “shard” of needed financial documents and “blocks of indecipherable data,” Howell wrote.

Giuliani had claimed that the FBI's seizure of his electronic devices years ago made it difficult for him to access his records and that he was faced with high legal fees. But Howell said he could have taken steps earlier to preserve his records in case litigation arose in the future.

The judge also pointed out that although Giuliani complained to the court that he was buried in legal costs, he could obtain Trump's reimbursement of his electronic legal debts, had listed his Manhattan co-op apartment for $6.5 million and with a who traveled by private plane to report was taken to jail for processing last week in Fulton County, Georgia.

Howell noted that Giuliani's decades of experience as a lawyer, including as the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, underscore his “lackluster conservation efforts.”

“Giuliani has made statements containing concessions that falter upon closer inspection and excuses intended to obscure the inadequacy of his disclosure obligations. “The bottom line is that Giuliani has refused to comply with his disclosure obligations and has thwarted the procedural rights of plaintiffs Ruby Freeman and Wandrea' ArShaye Moss to obtain meaningful discovery in this case,” Howell wrote in a 57-page opinion.

“On a public stage it may be good for certain spectators to don a cloak of victimization, but in court this appearance has only served to undermine the normal investigative process in a simple defamation case, with the concomitant need for repeated judicial intervention.” “

Late last month, Giuliani acknowledged that he had made defamatory statements about Freeman and Moss — who are just one of several groups suing Giuliani for defamation related to his work for Trump after the 2020 election — and that he did not dispute their allegations I smeared it after the 2020 election.

Giuliani's statements about them, which Freeman and Moss say are false, included calling them criminal ballot-stuffing conspirators. Giuliani also drew attention to a video of them after the election, first released by the Trump campaign, that showed part of a security tape of the vote count in Atlanta. On social media, his podcast and other broadcasts, Giuliani said the video showed suitcases filled with ballots while it captured nothing more than normal ballot processing, according to the defamation lawsuit and a government investigation.

Election officials in Georgia have debunked Giuliani's allegations of vote-counting fraud.

The mother-daughter duo have been open about how Trump and Giuliani's claims of election fraud have affected their lives.

“There is no place where I feel safe. Nowhere. Do you know what it feels like when the President of the United States targets you?” Freeman said this last year in video testimony before the House Select Committee examining the events surrounding the riots at the US Capitol on January 6th examined in 2021.

Moss said her privacy was shattered when she learned that Giuliani had accused her mother, Freeman, of giving her a type of USB stick like “vials of cocaine or heroin” as part of an elaborate election fraud, she said. In reality, the object was a ginger mint. In his controversial call as he asked Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to find votes that would help him overturn his 2020 defeat, Trump attacked Moss 18 times and the former president called Freeman a “professional election fraudster” and a “rabble-rouser.” “.

“I felt terrible. I felt like it was all my fault,” Moss said during her testimony last year. “I just felt like it was my fault for putting my family in that situation.”

She added that she and her mother were afraid to go outside or to the supermarket after receiving threats “wishing me dead, telling me I'll be in prison with my mother, saying things like : 'Be glad that it is like this.'” 2020 and not 1920.'”

During Giuliani's disinformation campaign about the Georgia vote, the FBI recommended that Freeman leave her home for her own safety, the lawsuit says.

This story has been updated with additional reporting and details.