Rudy Giuliani has been ordered to pay nearly $150 million in damages to former Georgia election officials Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, whom he defamed after the 2020 presidential election.
But as with all grand jury awards, the question is whether Freeman and Moss will see any of that money.
Giuliani, the former New York mayor and former lawyer for former President Donald Trump, has vowed to appeal the jury's verdict. During the trial, he and his lawyers repeatedly said that he already lacked the means to pay off his various debts. However, it is unclear how much the former New York mayor actually has.
Lawyers for Freeman and Moss said in court they tried to find out Giuliani's net worth, but because he hasn't responded to many of their subpoenas in the lawsuit, they couldn't come up with an exact figure.
A spokesman for Giuliani declined Friday to comment on his current financial situation.
Attorney John Langford told CNN's Erin Burnett on “OutFront” Friday night that they want to ensure that Moss and Freeman “see every last bit of money that Mr. Giuliani has available to pay and fulfill this judgment” and that they “look at everything.” Option (they) need to get the money he owes Ruby and Shaye.”
They plan, Langford said, to reach a final ruling quickly in order to move on to other jurisdictions where Giuliani has assets.
Ryan Goodman, a former Defense Department special agent, told Burnett that poll workers would likely collect only a “fraction” of the amount awarded. “There is no way they will collect (the entire judgment) and I don't think they will collect half or a quarter of the amount, just a fraction. But I think they might raise millions. It depends on what his net worth is,” he said.
Giuliani was ordered to pay $16,171,000 to Freeman for defamation, $16,998,000 to Moss for defamation, $20 million to each woman for emotional distress, and a total of $75 million in punitive damages. When the verdict was announced, even Judge Beryl Howell seemed surprised by the number.
Giuliani had already been fined more than $200,000 for some of Freeman and Moss' legal fees that he failed to pay. He also owed defense attorneys who had helped him in other matters more than $1 million, prompting them to sue him this year, and had not paid nearly $60,000 in years of phone bills.
But at times he had help – including from Trump – in trying to raise funds to pay off some of his debts, and he was able to take a private plane to his arrest on criminal charges related to interference in the 2020 election in Georgia fly this summer.
A few months ago, Giuliani put his three-bedroom apartment in Manhattan up for sale. It's still on the market for $6.1 million, according to public real estate listings.
It's not clear whether Giuliani could file for bankruptcy to protect himself from any damages in the lawsuit. According to people familiar with the case, this question may have to be decided by the courts at a later date, and it is possible that he will still be responsible for what the jury awards Moss and Freeman even if he is in goes bankrupt.
The courts had to deal with this type of matter in another high-profile defamation case against right-wing extremist figure Alex Jones, brought by the families of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
Jones filed for bankruptcy after being ordered to pay nearly $1.5 billion to the families of the shooting victims. But a judge ruled this fall that he couldn't avoid the debt through bankruptcy.
Even if Giuliani were to file for bankruptcy, Goodman told Burnett that “in all likelihood the judgment is independent” and the former mayor “will definitely have to pay them.”
“He is in trouble and the only question is how much wealth he has. Does he have a million-dollar apartment here and there?’ And then it’s about them versus maybe other creditors,” he said.
Freeman told reporters outside the federal courthouse in Washington that her life had changed forever.
“I want people to understand this: Money will never solve all my problems,” she said. “I can never move back into the house I called home. I will always have to be careful where I go and who I share my name with. I miss my home. I miss my neighbors and I miss my name.”
02:57 – Source: CNN
Election worker describes threats to court
Ken Frydman, a former spokesman for Giuliani during his 1993 mayoral campaign, told CNN's Jake Tapper on “The Lead” that while it's unlikely Giuliani will be able to pay the entire verdict, “it sends one message and one precedent for another.” “Creates defamation cases.”
“We all know he can't afford this even if his wages are garnished, but it's certainly vindication for the plaintiffs,” Frydman said.
For his part, Giuliani said he plans to appeal.
“The absurdity of the number underlines the absurdity of the entire process,” he told reporters, referring to the money he was ordered to pay.
Nevertheless, he stuck to his defamatory statements against Moss and Freeman and again provided no evidence to support his claims.
“I have no doubt that my comments were made and that they were supportable and that they are still supportable today,” Giuliani said.