Rudy Giuliani ordered to pay $148m for smearing Georgia poll workers

Ruby Freeman and Wandrea Moss suffered lost wages and stress over conspiracy theories in 2020 election

Rudy Giuliani, the former personal lawyer for Donald Trump, outside a federal courthouse in Washington. AFP
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Donald Trump’s former top campaign lawyer Rudy Giuliani must pay $148 million to two 2020 Georgia election workers after promoting conspiracy theories about them, a federal jury in Washington determined on Friday.

The verdict followed a trial on damages Mr Giuliani must pay to Ruby Freeman and her daughter Wandrea “Shaye” Moss for harm to their reputations and other impacts, including lost wages and mental anguish.

Ms Freeman and her daughter had asked for $48 million in damages, to be split equally between them.

The former New York City mayor was found liable by US District Judge Beryl Howell in Washington in August for defaming Ms Freeman and Ms Moss by promoting false claims that they tampered with ballot counting. A subsequent jury trial was held to determine the damages.

Mr Giuliani played a central role in spreading falsehoods that the 2020 election was tainted by fraud that would have changed the outcome – claims that Mr Trump and his allies continue to repeat as he ramps up his current presidential campaign.

Ms Moss and Ms Freeman testified during the trial that their lives were torn apart as a result of a smear campaign promoted by Mr Giuliani, who pushed false claims that they took actions to rig the election against Mr Trump. At times, the two women broke down in tears.

“Every single aspect of my life has changed,” Ms Moss said. She added that she was most scared of her “mum finding me hanging on our tree outside of our house”.

She said part of her goal with the lawsuit was to help prevent similar campaigns in the future against other election workers, some of whom she said now wear bulletproof vests.

“I’m sure by hitting someone in the pockets, especially someone whose whole career is about their pockets, that will leave an impression about the next person who tries to spew lies about the next election worker,” she said.

Mr Giuliani’s lawyer Joseph Sibley told the jury that the damages would amount to the “civil equivalent of the death penalty” for his client.

He appeared to be referring to the financial hardships Mr Giuliani has faced from the civil and criminal cases against him.

Mr Sibley acknowledged there was significant evidence of the harm that Ms Freeman and Ms Moss suffered but argued many other people besides Mr Giuliani were responsible.

Updated: December 16, 2023, 12:52 AM