Rudy Giuliani was ordered to pay $148 million for defaming poll workers in Georgia

A federal jury in Washington ruled Friday that Donald Trump's former top campaign lawyer Rudy Giuliani must pay $148 million to two 2020 Georgia election officials for spreading conspiracy theories about them.

The verdict followed a trial over damages Mr. Giuliani must pay to Ruby Freeman and her daughter Wandrea “Shaye” Moss for defamation of reputation and other effects, including lost wages and mental anguish.

Ms. Freeman and her daughter had sought $48 million in damages, to be divided equally between them.

The former New York mayor was found liable in Washington in August by U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell for defaming Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss by making false claims that they had rigged the vote count. A jury trial was then held to determine damages.

Mr. Giuliani played a central role in spreading the falsehood that the 2020 election was influenced by fraud that changed the outcome – claims that Mr. Trump and his allies continue to repeat as he advances his current presidential campaign.

Ms. Moss and Ms. Freeman testified during the trial that their lives were destroyed by a smear campaign promoted by Mr. Giuliani that made false claims that they took actions to rig the election against Mr. Trump. At times the two women burst into tears.

“Every single aspect of my life has changed,” Ms. Moss said. She added that what she was most afraid of was “that her mother would find me hanging from our tree in front of our house.”

She said part of her goal with the lawsuit is to prevent similar campaigns in the future against other poll workers, some of whom she said now wear bulletproof vests.

“I'm sure that punching someone in the pocket, especially someone whose entire career revolves around his wallet, will leave an impression on the next person who tries to spread lies about the next poll worker .”

Mr. Giuliani's lawyer, Joseph Sibley, told the jury that his client's damages would be “civilly equivalent to the death penalty.”

He appeared to be referring to the financial difficulties Mr. Giuliani was facing because of the civil and criminal cases against him.

Mr. Sibley acknowledged that there was significant evidence of the harm suffered by Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss, but argued that many other people besides Mr. Giuliani were responsible.

Updated: December 16, 2023, 12:52 a.m