Giuliani heads to trial over false vote fraud claims about Georgia poll workers
By Andrew Goudsward
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Rudy Giuliani goes to trial on Monday in a civil defamation case that could force him to pay millions of dollars to two Georgia election workers he falsely accused of working to rig the 2020 presidential election against Donald Trump.
A federal judge has already determined that the former New York mayor and Trump lawyer is liable for defaming Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, a voter registration officer, and her mother Ruby Freeman, who was a temporary worker for the election. The only question for the jury is how much Giuliani will owe in damages.
Moss and Freeman accused Giuliani of orchestrating a “sustained smear campaign” by falsely accusing them of election fraud as Giuliani searched for evidence to bolster Trump’s effort to overturn his election loss to Democrat Joe Biden. The pair are expected to testify at the trial, which is due to conclude this week.
Giuliani, who is required to attend the trial, also may take the witness stand. His lawyer intends to argue that Giuliani’s remarks had a minimal connection to the harm Moss and Freeman suffered.
Giuliani spokesperson Ted Goodman said the case is politically motivated.
“I urge members of the legal community and all Americans —across the partisan political spectrum — to stand up and speak out against the weaponization of our justice system against political opponents,” he said in a statement.
According to court documents, Giuliani referenced surveillance footage that he falsely claimed showed the workers hiding “suitcases” full of illegal ballots under tables at a vote processing center in Atlanta, and counting ballots multiple times.
He accused them of surreptitiously passing around a USB drive like “vials of cocaine or heroin.” The purported computer drive was actually a ginger mint, the two later said.
A state investigation found the two were properly and legally counting votes. Moss and Freeman, who are Black, alleged they were subjected to a torrent of racist abuse and violent threats.
“While nothing will fully repair all of the damage that Giuliani and his allies wreaked on our clients’ lives, livelihoods, and security, they are eager and ready for their day in court,” lawyers for the two said in a statement ahead of the trial.
U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell, who is overseeing the case, has already found Moss and Freeman are entitled to damages on their claims of defamation, infliction of emotional distress and conspiracy.
The judge ruled in August that Giuliani had made it difficult for them to prove their case at trial by failing to turn over evidence as required.
The jury’s verdict could worsen financial problems for Giuliani, who has faced a series of legal and professional woes for his work for Trump after the election.
Giuliani was indicted in August in a sweeping racketeering case in Georgia against Trump and several of his allies, in part for his alleged targeting of Freeman and Moss. Giuliani has pleaded not guilty.
Reuters first reported the details of the ordeal Moss and Freeman endured in December 2021, when they described threats of lynching and racial slurs, along with alarming visits by strangers to their homes.
Moss and Freeman settled defamation claims with the far-right One America News Network for an undisclosed sum last year.
(Reporting by Andrew Goudsward; Editing by Andy Sullivan and Daniel Wallis)