Judge rules Rudy Giuliani has forfeited election defamation case
Why it matters: The ruling could add to Giuliani's ballooning legal fees — and comes after he was indicted in Fulton County alongside former President Trump over his alleged efforts to flip 2020 election results.
Driving the news: U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell wrote that Giuliani failed to produce relevant records and evidence sought by Freeman and Moss in the case.
- Howell also ordered Giuliani to pay punitive damages to Freeman and Moss for not turning over the evidence in a timely manner.
- "Just as taking shortcuts to win an election carries risks — even potential criminal liability — bypassing the discovery process carries serious sanctions," Howell wrote.
The big picture: Freeman and Moss, who were both election workers in Fulton County during the 2020 election, sued Giuliani and the conservative One America News Network in 2021 in a defamation lawsuit.
- They wrote that the baseless public claims "led to an immediate onslaught of violent and racist threats and harassment" that left them "afraid to live normal lives."
- Giuliani repeatedly falsely accused Freeman and Moss of manipulating ballots during the ballot counting process in Georgia during the 2020 election.
- A judge later dismissed OANN from the defamation lawsuit after Freeman and Moss reached a settlement with the network.
What they're saying: "This 57 page opinion on discovery—which would usually be no more than two or three pages—is a prime example of the weaponization of the justice system, where the process is the punishment," Ted Goodman, political adviser to Giuliani, said in a statement.
- "This decision should be reversed, as Mayor Giuliani is wrongly accused of not preserving electronic evidence that was seized and held by the FBI."
What's next: Howell ordered the case to go to trial to determine how much Giuliani owes in damages.
- Giuliani has until Sept. 20 to submit financial documents and records about the revenue and viewership metrics for his podcast.
Editor's note: This story was updated with a statement from Giuliani's political adviser.