Rudy Giuliani to Appear in Court Over Defamation of 2020 Election Workers

Rudy Giuliani to Appear in Court Over Defamation of 2020 Election Workers – On Monday, Rudy Giuliani is set to present his defense in a Washington DC federal courtroom against a defamation lawsuit. The lawsuit aims to compel him to pay substantial damages for making untrue and inflammatory statements about the plaintiffs following the 2020 election.

Giuliani has acknowledged making defamatory remarks about Ruby Freeman and her daughter Shaye Moss, both Black election workers in Fulton County. They reported receiving death threats due to his assertions. US District Judge Beryl Howell, overseeing the case, has already determined his liability for defamation. 

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The upcoming week-long jury trial will center on determining the appropriate penalty Giuliani should pay. Freeman and Moss are seeking damages ranging from $15 million to $43.5 million. Jury selection and opening statements are anticipated on Monday. This case holds significance as a robust attempt to hold Donald Trump allies accountable for disseminating election lies in the ex-president’s bid to overturn the 2020 election. 

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It represents a key test for using defamation law against misinformation. Amid the chaotic aftermath of the 2020 election, it vividly illustrates the human toll of election denialism. Giuliani, facing criminal charges in Georgia, propagated misleading footage despite swift debunking by election officials, causing severe repercussions for Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss. 

Their lives were disrupted by threats and attempts at a “citizen’s arrest,” leading Freeman to fear revealing her name publicly, symbolized by her reluctance to wear a once-proudly displayed shirt. “I won’t even introduce myself by my name any more. I get nervous when I bump into someone I know in the grocery store who says my name. I’m worried about people listening.”

“I get nervous when I have to give my name for food orders. I’m always concerned of who’s around me,” she told the committee. “There is nowhere I feel safe. Nowhere. Do you know how it feels to have the president of the United States target you?” In 2021, Moss revealed to Reuters that she experienced anxiety and depression. Additionally, her son, who used a cellphone previously registered to her, faced death threats and struggled academically. 

While both women have maintained a low public profile since the 2020 election, they are anticipated to testify this week. Giuliani has admitted to making untrue statements about Freeman and Moss. However, he contends that he should not be held accountable for the harm they endured due to his false assertions. “Giuliani will argue that Plaintiffs cannot show more than a de minimis relationship between their alleged harm and Giuliani’s conduct,” his lawyers wrote in a court filing in November.

Giuliani has faced over $200,000 in sanctions for refusing to submit documents in the lawsuit, and Judge Howell criticized his attorney last week for Giuliani’s absence at a hearing. Despite this, Giuliani is anticipated to testify during the trial, with his lawyer indicating he won’t invoke the fifth amendment. 

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The initial lawsuit, filed in December 2021, targeted damages from both Giuliani and One America News (OAN), a far-right channel disseminating misinformation post the 2020 election. Freeman and Moss reached a settlement with OAN in 2022, with undisclosed terms, but the network publicly acknowledged shortly after that there was no widespread voter fraud in Georgia in 2020.

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