After his first day in a Washington, D.C. courtroom where a jury will decide how much he owes two former Georgia election officials for defamation, Donald Trump's former election lawyer Rudy Giuliani still insists that everything he said about the two women was true.
The federal judge overseeing the case has already ruled that Giuliani spread false information about Ruby Freeman and Wandrea “Shaye” Moss during the 2020 election.
The defamation damages trial began Monday with jury selection and opening statements, but as court ended for the day, Giuliani, a former federal prosecutor and New York City mayor, continued to attack Freeman and Moss.
“Everything I said about her is true,” Giuliani told reporters.
“Of course I don’t regret it,” Giuliani then said when asked if he regretted his actions. “I told the truth. They were busy changing votes.”
When a reporter responded that there was no evidence to support such a claim, Giuliani said: “Oh, you’re damn right. Stay tuned.”
Freeman and Moss want the trial judge to tell Giuliani that statements like this from him or his lawyers are not admissible in court.
“Needless to say, if defendant Giuliani were to testify in a manner even remotely resembling these statements,” the plaintiffs’ attorneys said in a court filing late Monday, “he would clearly be violating the Court’s prior orders.” “I affirm that all elements of liability have been established, including that Defendant Giuliani's defamatory statements were false.”
The trial puts the actions of Trump's lawyers and campaign on public display for the first time before a jury in Washington, D.C., months before the ex-president is scheduled to go on trial in the same courthouse on criminal charges related to the 2020 election's subversion efforts . Giuliani's efforts also add to the criminal allegations Trump faces, and Trump, his legal team and his campaign are legally considered co-conspirators in the defamation case.
Giuliani has already been found liable for defamation and owes Freeman and Moss over $230,000 after he failed to respond to parts of their lawsuit. The mother and daughter are now seeking tens of millions of dollars, claiming they suffered emotional and reputational harm and that their safety was at risk after Giuliani singled them out when he made false claims about election manipulation in Georgia.
The women are asking the jury to consider awarding them between $15.5 million and $43 million for the reputational damage they suffered solely from a series of specific statements made about them by Giuliani and others, including Trump and his campaign.
In addition, they are seeking compensation for their emotional distress, legal fees and a future jury fine against Giuliani as “punishment for his outrageous conduct and to deter him and others” – in a potentially staggering amount.
During opening statements, Von DuBose, an attorney for Freeman and Moss, showed videos and played audio clips in which Giuliani repeated false claims that the two poll workers stuffed ballots and were caught on video allegedly using a USB as part of a vote-stealing scheme -Stick passed on plan.
None of these claims were true, and the alleged USB drive was a mint. DuBose held up one of the coins Monday for the jury to see.
However, these claims led to a barrage of threats and harassment on social media, via voicemail and in person against Moss and Freeman. DuBose played haunting voicemails the plaintiffs received in which they were hurled with racial slurs and other insults. Some of the messages contained death threats.
“Have a good life. What's left of it,” one person said in an audio clip played Monday.
DuBose said these messages were just a small sample of the “hundreds and hundreds of messages” and threats that Moss and Freeman have received.
Giuliani's false claims “had the most powerful amplifier in the world: Donald J. Trump's social media accounts,” another lawyer for the two women, Mike Gottlieb, told jurors.
“When you hear the evidence … think about a verdict that will send a message,” Gottlieb said.
In his own opening statement, Giuliani attorney Joseph Sibley acknowledged that Freeman and Moss were harmed and that the jury would award his client damages. However, he argued that the amount sought by the plaintiffs was far more than what Giuliani would have had to pay them because of his conduct.
Sibley once said that the plaintiffs were seeking “the civil equivalent of the death penalty” in damages.
“You are trying to kill Mr. Giuliani,” he told the jury.
“There is really no question that these plaintiffs were harmed,” Sibley said. “They didn’t deserve what happened to them.”
But there are “a lot of people involved,” he said. It wasn’t just Rudy Giuliani.”
Sibley once said that Freeman and Moss sought greater damages than a jury awarded actor Johnny Depp in a libel case last year. In that matter, Depp was awarded $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages in a case involving his ex-wife.
But the judge overseeing Giuliani's case made clear that she did not want the jury to consider the facts of that case when deciding what to award Freeman and Moss.
“Mr. Sibley, let's stay on this case,” said District Judge Beryl Howell.
The former New York mayor is expected to testify in his own defense, but his lawyer did not know at a hearing last week whether Giuliani would invoke his Fifth Amendment rights on the witness stand.
On the other hand, Moss and Freeman's team plans to show the jury clips of other Trump campaign figures, such as attorney Jenna Ellis, who refused to answer questions during her testimony.
Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, a former Georgia poll worker, is comforted by her mother Ruby Freeman (right) as the House special committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds a hearing at the Capitol in Washington, DC will be held June 21, 2022.
While Giuliani admitted in July that he had made defamatory statements about Moss and Freeman, he tried to argue that his statements did not harm the two women and that his comments about voter fraud in Georgia in the 2020 election were protected speech.
But Giuliani lost the lawsuit in August after Howell found he had failed to provide information sought in subpoenas.
Howell dismissed Giuliani's allegations that he was buried in legal costs, which she called “a cloak of victimization.”
CNN has previously reported that Giuliani is struggling with the costs of the numerous legal challenges he faces related to his work for Trump after the 2020 election, and in a court filing in August, Giuliani said he was virtually out of money.
To ease some of the financial burden, Giuliani listed his three-bedroom Manhattan apartment for $6.5 million, which Howell pointed to to argue that Giuliani could pay the damages, along with any reimbursement he from Trump and his trip on a private plane while he was being tried in Fulton County in the Georgia election subversion case.
This story has been updated with additional developments.