Updated Aug 30, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Judge rules Rudy Giuliani has forfeited election defamation case

 Rudy Giuliani speaks to the media after leaving the Fulton County jail on August 23, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Rudy Giuliani speaks to the media after leaving the Fulton County jail on Aug. 23 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Rudy Giuliani is liable for defaming two election workers in Georgia, Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Shaye Moss, according to a court filing.

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.

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