Updated Dec 15, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Where Rudy Giuliani’s trial for defaming Georgia election workers stands

Rudy Giuliani speaks to the press as he leaves the U.S. District Courthouse on Dec. 11 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Ex-Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani was ordered by a jury Friday to pay $148 million in damages for defaming two Georgia election workers as part of his alleged efforts to undermine the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Why it matters: The case is among the former New York City mayor's mounting legal and financial troubles.

Georgia election workers sue Giuliani

Background: Two Fulton County, Georgia election workers — Ruby Freeman and her daughter Shaye Mossfiled a defamation lawsuit in 2021 against Giuliani and the conservative One America News Network.

  • The lawsuit centers on baseless allegations that Giuliani repeatedly made, and the network disseminated, claiming that Freeman and Moss had committed ballot fraud.
  • Freeman and Moss alleged in the lawsuit that the claims "led to an immediate onslaught of violent and racist threats and harassment."
  • OAN was dismissed from the lawsuit last year after reaching a settlement with Freeman and Moss, AP reports.

Of note: A federal judge ruled in August that Giuliani was liable for defaming Freeman and Moss.

  • U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell said at the time that Giuliani failed to produce relevant records and evidence sought by the election workers.
  • "Just as taking shortcuts to win an election carries risks — even potential criminal liability — bypassing the discovery process carries serious sanctions," the judge wrote.

Context: In her testimony, Freeman described the wave of threats she faced after Giuliani spread lies about her, saying that at one point she received so many that her phone "crashed and just died," per CNN.

  • "Pack your s–t. They are coming for you. I'm not far behind. I'm coming for you also. Trash will be taken to the street in bags," read one of the threats.
  • Freedman said: "I took it as though they were going to cut me up and put me into trash bags and take it out to my street," Freeman said.
  • CNN reported Giuliani told reporters outside the courthouse on Wednesday he would "intend to" testify. "You always leave them guessing, right?"
  • During opening statements, one of the defendants' attorneys said Freeman and Moss received "vile, racist, hateful comments," as a result of Giuliani's claims, per NBC News.

Zoom in: Statements that Giuliani made before the trial "could support another defamation case," Howell said, per CNN.

  • Giuliani repeated the claim that Freeman and Moss changed votes.
  • Giuliani also disparaged the plaintiffs' lawyer on a live video broadcast on Tuesday night. His statements violated a court stipulation, Howell said on Wednesday, per the Guardian.

How much money has Giuliani been ordered to pay?

  • Howell ordered Giuliani earlier this year to pay the women roughly $230,000 in legal fees and sanctions for his failure to comply with discovery requests, per the Washington Post.
  • The $148 million in damages the jury awarded in the trial add to what the court has already ordered Giuliani to pay the women.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional developments from the trial. Axios' Sareen Habeshian and April Rubin contributed reporting.

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