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Rudy Giuliani Hit With $148m Verdict for Defaming Two Georgia Election Workers

Rudy Giuliani should pay a pair of Georgia election workers he repeatedly and falsely accused of fraud $148 million in damages, a federal jury said Friday.

The eight-person jury awarded Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, the sum after a four-day trial, during which they testified that Giuliani’s lies in support of former President Donald Trump’s bogus stolen-election claims subjected them to a torrent of racist and violent threats and turned their lives upside down.

“Today’s a good day. A jury stood witness to what Rudy Giuliani did to me and my daughter and held him accountable and for that I’m thankful,” Freeman said.

Moss said, “The lies Rudy Giuliani told about me and my mommy after the 2020 presidential election have changed our lives and the past few years has been devastating.”

“We’re very grateful to the jury for taking the time out of their busy lives to do their civic duty to listen to everything that we’ve been going through,” she added.

The amount awarded to Freeman and Moss was for three different kinds of damages — defamation, punitive and emotional distress. The plaintiffs were awarded $20 million each for emotional distress, and $75 million between them in punitive damages. Freeman was separately awarded just over $16 million in defamation damages, while Moss was awarded almost $17 million. Giuliani called the dollar amount “absurd” and told reporters he would appeal.

Freeman testified Wednesday that she was terrorized by Trump supporters and forced to move from her home because of Giuliani’s smears. “I was scared to come home at dark, you know,” a visibly emotional Freeman said on the witness stand. “I was just scared, I knew I had to move.”

Their attorney, Michael Gottlieb, said in his closing argument that Giuliani had “no right to offer up defenseless civil servants up to a virtual mob in order to overturn an election.” He urged the jurors to “send a message” with their verdict.

He said the mother and daughter should each get at least $24 million in damages for Giuliani’s defamatory statements, as well as additional money for intentional infliction of emotional distress and punitive damages claims.

Giuliani, who led Trump’s legal team after his 2020 election loss, initially said he would testify in the case, but ultimately decided against it.

In his opening statement, Giuliani attorney Joseph Sibley said a large verdict would be the “civil equivalent of the death penalty” for his client. “It would be the end of Mr. Giuliani,” Sibley said.

He acknowledged in his closing argument that “my client has committed wrongful conduct against” the pair and had “harmed” them, but asked the jury to keep in mind the good Giuliani had done in his lifetime.

He told them the message he believed they should send is, “You should have been better, but you’re not as bad as the plaintiffs are making you out to be.” The only issue the jury had to determine was money damages.

U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell in August found Giuliani liable for defaming the pair after the defendant repeatedly snubbed court orders to turn over required evidence to Freeman and Moss.

“Just as taking shortcuts to win an election carries risks — even potential criminal liability — bypassing the discovery process carries serious sanctions,” she added.

Giuliani had repeatedly accused the pair of election fraud in the wake of Trump’s loss in Georgia, and circulated a brief, heavily edited clip of security footage that he told a legislative committee in Georgia showed them passing USB drives “like vials of heroin or cocaine” during ballot-counting operations. Moss said the “USB drive” was actually a ginger mint.

Despite findings from the pair’s former bosses and a yearslong investigation that they did nothing wrong, Giuliani has continued to accuse them of being fraudsters. In remarks to reporters after the first day of trial on Monday, Giuliani said, “When I testify, you’ll get the whole story, and it will be definitively clear what I said was true.”

After the verdict, Giuliani said he didn’t testify because he was worried the judge would find him in contempt, and complained that he hadn’t been allowed to enter evidence that his allegations were true, despite his not having turned over any such evidence before trial.

“The absurdity of the number merely underscores the absurdity of the entire proceeding where I’ve not been allowed to offer one single piece of evidence in defense, of which I have a lot,” he said. Giuliani also disavowed any responsibility for the “deplorable” threats made to Freeman and Moss. “I had nothing to do with this comments,” he said.

The verdict compounds a bleak financial picture for the former New York City mayor, who’s said that his efforts to overturn the 2020 election has taken a toll on his finances at a time when he’s facing a number of legal challenges.

He has pleaded not guilty to criminal charges alongside Trump and others in the Georgia case accusing them of trying to illegally overturn the results of the election in the state. Part of the charges against Giuliani there include his false claims about Freeman.

Giuliani is also being sued by Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems for his election claims, as well as by Hunter Biden over alleged computer fraud and release of personal information. Additionally, Giuliani is being sued by a former assistant who accused him of sexually assaulting her, allegations that an aide to the former mayor says he “unequivocally denies.”

Giuliani has had his law licenses suspended in New York and Washington, D.C., and is fighting disbarment. His longtime lawyer has sued him and dropped him, and Giuliani has listed his New York City apartment for sale, at $6.1 million.

Trump did not pay him directly for his work fighting the 2020 election results, but hosted a fundraiser for him in September that Giuliani’s son said raised over $1 million.

Giuliani cited his financial problems as one of the reasons he wasn’t able to comply with Howell’s discovery orders in the defamation case, but never turned over his financial information to support that argument.

Source: Nbcnews