LEGAL RULING - A federal judge on Wednesday ruled that Rudy Giuliani, former President Donald Trump's erstwhile personal attorney, is legally liable for defaming Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, Georgia election workers who have endured death threats and harassment since Giuliani falsely accused them of committing fraud during the 2020 presidential contest.
Judge Beryl Howell of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia wrote in a scathing 57-page opinion that "rather than simply play by the rules designed to promote a discovery process necessary to reach a fair decision on the merits of plaintiffs' claims, Giuliani has bemoaned plaintiffs' efforts to secure his compliance as 'punishment by process.'"
"Donning a cloak of victimization may play well on a public stage to certain audiences," Howell added, "but in a court of law this performance has served only to subvert the normal process of discovery in a straightforward defamation case, with the concomitant necessity of repeated court intervention."
A jury will be tasked with deciding how much Giuliani will have to pay in damages to Freeman and Moss, whom the former New York City mayor accused of "surreptitiously passing around USB ports as if they are vials of heroin or cocaine" as they counted ballots in Georgia.
In reality, what Giuliani saw in surveillance footage was Freeman handing Moss—her daughter—a ginger mint, Moss said in congressional testimony last year.
Giuliani, who spearheaded the Trump legal team's effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, also claimed Freeman and Moss were engaged in a scheme involving "suitcases" stuffed with ballots. But what Giuliani said were suitcases were in fact official ballot containers.
Last month, Giuliani agreed not to contest that he made false and defamatory statements about Freeman and Moss.
CNN reported Wednesday that the damages owed to Freeman and Moss "could amount to thousands if not millions of dollars."
"Giuliani has already been sanctioned almost $90,000 for Freeman and Moss' attorneys' fees in the case, and Howell says the former New York mayor may be saddled with additional similar sanctions," the outlet added. "Giuliani has been struggling financially, buried under 2020 election legal proceedings, a new criminal case against him in Georgia related to efforts to overturn the election, and other matters. He has pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges in Georgia and has been released from jail on bond."
(Jake Johnson is a senior editor and staff writer for Common Dreams where this article was first published.)