WASHINGTON (AP) — A trial set to get underway in Washington on Monday will determine how much Rudy Giuliani will have to pay two Georgia election workers who he falsely accused of fraud while pushing Donald Trump’s baseless claims after he lost the 2020 election.
The former New York City mayor has already been found liable in the defamation lawsuit brought by Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, who endured threats and harassment after they became the target of a conspiracy theory spread by Trump and his allies. The only issue to be determined at the trial — which will begin with jury selection in Washington’s federal court — is the amount of damages, if any, Giuliani must pay.
The case is among many legal and financial woes mounting for Giuliani, who was celebrated as “America’s mayor” in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attack and became one of the most ardent promoters of Trump’s election lies after he lost to President Joe Biden.
Giuliani is also criminally charged alongside Trump and others in the Georgia case accusing them of trying to illegally overturn the results of the election in the state. He has pleaded not guilty and maintains he had every right to raise questions about what he believed to be election fraud.
He was sued in September by a former lawyer who alleged Giuliani only paid a fraction of roughly $1.6 million in legal fees stemming from investigations into his efforts to keep Trump in the White House. And the judge overseeing the election workers’ lawsuit has already ordered Giuliani and his business entities to pay tens of thousands of dollars in attorneys’ fees.
Giuliani and other Trump allies seized on surveillance footage to push a conspiracy theory that the election workers pulled fraudulent ballots out of suitcases. The claims were quickly debunked by Georgia election officials, who found no improper counting of ballots.
The women have said the false claims led to an barrage of violent threats and harassment that at one point forced Freeman to flee her home for more than two months. In emotional testimony before the U.S. House Committee that investigated the U.S. Capitol attack, Moss recounted receiving an onslaught of threatening and racist messages.
In her August decision holding Giuliani liable in the case, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell said he gave “only lip service” to complying with his legal obligations and had failed to turn over information requested by the mother and daughter. The judge in October said that Giuliani had flagrantly disregarded an order to provide documents concerning his personal and business assets. She said that jurors deciding the amount of damages will be told they must “infer” that Giuliani was intentionally trying to hide financial documents in the hopes of “artificially deflating his net worth.”
Giuliani conceded in July that he made public comments falsely claiming Freeman and Moss committed fraud to try to alter the outcome of the race while counting ballots at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. But Giuliani argued that the statements were protected by the First Amendment.
Source: AP News