It will be the ‘end of Mr. Giuliani’ if jury awards millions to election workers: lawyer

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Washington: A lawyer for two Georgia election workers has accused Rudy Giuliani of destroying his clients’ reputations by falsely accusing them of working to rig the 2020 US presidential election against Donald Trump.

A jury heard opening arguments in a civil defamation trial focused only on how much Giuliani will have to pay the two workers. They are Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, a voter registration officer, and her mother Ruby Freeman, who was a temporary worker for the election. A federal judge has already determined that the former New York mayor and Trump lawyer is liable for defamation.

Lawyers for Moss and Freeman said they would ask the jury to award tens of millions of dollars in damages at the close of the trial.

Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani talks to reporters outside court in Washington. The trial will determine how much he pays in damage to two defamed Georgia election workers.Credit: AP

If the jury awards Freeman and Moss what they are seeking, Guiliani’s lawyer Joseph Sibley said, it “will be the end of Mr Giuliani”.

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. They are expected to testify at the trial, which is due to conclude this week.

Von DuBose, a lawyer for the two women, told jurors in his opening statement that Giuliani and other Trump allies “stole the lives of Ms Freeman and Ms Moss by destroying their names”.

Police mugshots of former US president Donald Trump and the other 18 people charged with trying to overturn the election. Giuliani is top left.Credit: Reuters

DuBose played a sampling of recorded messages Freeman and Moss received following the election that were filled with racist and sexist slurs and accusations the pair had committed “treason”.

Giuliani, who sat in the courtroom during opening arguments, also may take the witness stand. Sibley conceded that Giuliani “did something wrong” but said the attacks on Freeman and Moss “involved a lot of people”.

“You’re going to see a lot of evidence of harm, but not much evidence that Mr Giuliani was the cause,” Sibley told the jury.

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 centre in Atlanta, and counting ballots multiple times.

He accused them of surreptitiously passing around a USB drive. The purported computer drive was actually a ginger sweet, 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.

US 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 charged 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.


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