Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer and close ally of Donald Trump, will be held responsible for defaming two Georgia poll workers after the 2020 election, a federal judge ruled in a default judgment.
According to the opinion from Judge Beryl Howell of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Giuliani failed to provide documentation during the discovery process while making “excuses” to cover up his noncompliance.
“On a public stage, it may be good for certain viewers to don a cloak of victimization, but in court this appearance has only served to undermine the normal process of discovery in a simple defamation case,” Howell wrote.
Ruby Freeman, a poll worker in Fulton County, Georgia, during the 2020 election, sued Giuliani for defaming her and her daughter Wandrea “Shaye” Moss by repeatedly spreading unsubstantiated claims that they committed voter fraud, including rolling suitcases with fake ballot papers.
Because of these unsubstantiated claims, Freeman and Moss, who are Black, became targets of harassment in the weeks following the election. Moss testified that she received threats and racist messages from strangers and had to go into hiding and change her appearance. The ruling, along with the settlement between Fox and Dominion, marks the second time that Giuliani, one of the most common spreaders of misinformation in the 2020 election, has been held accountable.
Giuliani admitted making false statements but argued in an earlier court filing that they were protected by the First Amendment.
A Georgia state elections board formally cleared Freeman and Moss of wrongdoing in a 10-page report released in March.
That report confirmed that the election-rigging allegations against Freeman and Moss were “baseless and without merit.”
According to Wednesday's ruling, Giuliani is also liable for “intentional infliction of emotional distress, civil conspiracy and compensatory damages.”
Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, faces 13 felony charges in the Georgia election interference case. He was arraigned last week at a county jail in Fulton and released after posting $150,000 bail.
Still, Giuliani, 79, is struggling to pay his mounting legal fees, according to The New York Times, which reports that his bills total $3 million. He put his Manhattan apartment up for sale in July for $6.5 million and asked Trump to cover some of the costs.
Trump will host a fundraiser for Giuliani at his New Jersey golf club this September, which will cost each guest $100,000 to attend.
The defamation case will now go to court to determine the amount of damages. Although it is unclear how much Giuliani will have to pay, Howell ruled that he owes $89,172.50, plus interest, in legal fees for Freeman and Moss for their successful motion to compel disclosure.
Ted Goodman, a political adviser to Rudy Giuliani, released a statement in response to today's federal court ruling that the former Trump lawyer is liable for defaming two Georgia election officials. It repeats what most Trump allies have said in response to the 2020 election cases.
“This is a prime example of the weaponization of the justice system, where the process is the punishment. This decision should be reversed because Mayor Giuliani is being wrongly accused of failing to preserve the electronic evidence seized and preserved by the FBI,” Goodman said.