(NEW YORK) — Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is on trial in Washington, D.C., this week for defaming Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Wandrea “Shaye” Moss in the aftermath of the 2020 election. Giuliani, acting on behalf of former President Donald Trump, accused the mother and daughter of committing election fraud while the two were counting ballots on Election Day in Georgia’s Fulton County.
U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell in August awarded a default judgment to the two women, leaving this week’s trial to determine the full scope of the damages and any penalties Giuliani will have to pay. Freeman and Moss are seeking between $15.5 million and $43 million.
Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:
Dec 12, 9:19 AM EST
Moss expected to testify this morning
Shaye Moss is expected to take the witness stand this morning on the second day of her defamation damages trial against Rudy Giuliani.
At the trial’s first day yesterday, an attorney for Moss and her mother, Ruby Freeman, described how Moss “started to have nightmares” as hundreds of strangers flooded her phone and social media with threats of violence and racist remarks — including “nightmares of her son finding her hanging from a tree alongside her mom.”
Moss “will explain the humiliation she felt” trying to apply for another job at a Chick-fil-A restaurant, the attorney added, where her interviewer found an article about scrutiny of Moss after the election and asked her, “Is this you?”
A day after Giuliani was slammed by plaintiffs’ attorneys for remarks he made to the press following yesterday’s proceedings, the former mayor ignored questions from reporters as he made his way into the courtroom this morning.
Dec 11, 11:03 PM EST
In filing, plaintiffs’ attorneys slam Giuliani’s remarks to press
In a filing late Monday, attorneys for Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss are accusing Rudy Giuliani and his attorney of crafting arguments at trial that run afoul of the court’s prior ruling that Giuliani’s defamatory statements about the mother and daughter were false.
The filing cites ABC News’ reporting on correspondent Terry Moran’s exchange with Giuliani as the former mayor departed court, during which Giuliani said that he “told the truth” about Freeman and Moss “changing votes,” and that he should not be held accountable for the conduct of “other people overreacting.”
“According to public news reports, upon leaving the courthouse, Defendant Giuliani stopped to say to an assembled group of the press: ‘When I testify, the whole story will be definitively clear that what I said was true, and that, whatever happened to them — which is unfortunate about other people overreacting — everything I said about them is true,'” the filing says, quoting ABC News’ report.
“Needless to say,” attorneys for Freeman and Moss write, “were Defendant Giuliani to testify in a manner remotely resembling those comments, he would be in plain violation of the Court’s prior orders in this case conclusively affirming, and reaffirming, that all elements of liability have been established, including that Defendant Giuliani’s defamatory statements were false.”
Judge Howell in August awarded a default judgment to the plaintiffs, leaving the current trial to determine the amount of damages and any penalties Giuliani will have to pay. In their late Monday filing, the plaintiffs’ attorneys urged Howell to “instruct counsel for Defendant Giuliani that he has violated and is prohibited from further violating the Court’s orders by making arguments contrary to its prior evidentiary rulings.”
Dec 11, 6:31 PM EST
Giuliani insists Freeman, Moss were ‘changing votes’
Departing court after the first day of the trial, Rudy Giuliani told ABC News’ Terry Moran that he has no regrets about his treatment of Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss — and he doubled down on his core allegations about them.
“When I testify, the whole story will be definitively clear that what I said was true, and that, whatever happened to them — which is unfortunate about other people overreacting — everything I said about them is true,” Giuliani told reporters.
“Do you regret what you did to Ruby and Shaye?” Moran asked.
“Of course I don’t regret it,” Giuliani said. “I told the truth. They were engaged in changing votes.”
“There’s no proof of that,” Moran responded.
“You’re damn right there is,” Giuliani retorted. “Stay tuned.”
Court will resume Tuesday at 9 a.m. ET.
Dec 11, 4:51 PM EST
Expert describes racist content ‘on a level we don’t see’
Plaintiffs’ first witness in the case is a social media monitor who testified about the deluge of “racist and graphic material” targeting Freeman and Moss that appeared online after Giuliani began accusing them by name.
Regina Scott, a retired Chicago Police Department official who now works as a security and risk analyst, testified that negative mentions about Freeman and Moss surfaced online at a prodigious rate.
A report Scott prepared identified more than 710,000 mentions of Freeman and Moss between November 2020 and May 2023, and 320,000 mentions between Aug. 18, 2023, and Nov. 11, 2023.
“The type of violent and racist and graphic material, that’s on a level we don’t see at all in our work,” Scott said.
-ABC News’ Laura Romero
Dec 11, 3:49 PM EST
Damages sought are ‘civil equivalent of death penalty,’ says attorney
Joseph Sibley, an attorney for Rudy Giuliani, implored jurors to withhold judgment of his client and consider a “fair and proportionate” monetary penalty when the trial concludes, framing the $43 million sought by Freeman and Moss as a “truly incredible” figure.
“What the plaintiffs’ counsel are asking for in this case is the civil equivalent of a death penalty,” Sibley told jurors in brief opening remarks.
Sibley, in making his case to the jury, ceding before arguments even began that Giuliani made defamatory comments about Freeman and Moss — but he refuted the notion that his comments led to the abuse that followed.
“There’s really no question that these plaintiffs were harmed,” Sibley said. “They’re good people, they didn’t deserve what happened to them.”
But Sibley urged jurors to consider only “what can actually be attributed to Mr. Giuliani.”
“He never promoted violence against these women, never made racist statements about them,” Sibley said of Giuliani. “That was other random people.”
Dec 11, 3:38 PM EST
Damage to plaintiffs should cost Giuliani ’10s of millions’
Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss suffered a “perpetual nightmare,” their attorney Michael Gottlieb told the jury during his opening remarks, saying that the damage they suffered warrants an “award in the tens of millions of dollars.”
Gottlieb told jurors his clients suffered three types of damages — reputation, emotional and punitive — due to Giuliani’s “defamation campaign.”
In addition to the costs to “repair their reputation,” Gottlieb told jurors that Freeman and Moss’ award should account for lost wages, forced relocation, security expenses, and more.
-ABC News’ Laura Romero
Dec 11, 3:00 PM EST
Giuliani used accusers as ‘cornerstone’ of conspiracy, says lawyer
Rudy Giuliani sought to use Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss “as a cornerstone” of his campaign to denigrate the 2020 presidential election, prompting his followers to turn their ire toward the two election workers, their attorney, Von DuBose, told the jury in his opening remarks.
DuBose described how Giuliani slandered Freeman and Moss to his “massive national audience” and accused the mother and daughter of rigging ballots in President Joe Biden’s favor.
“None of that — none of that — is true. But the millions of people who heard the lies didn’t wait for confirmation,” DuBose said. “And the response from those Giuliani called to action was swift. It was racist.”
Dubose played audio recordings of several voicemails left on Freeman and Moss’ phones after Giuliani targeted them by name, including threats of violence and racist name-calling.
Many of the voicemails cited the USB drive Giuliani falsely told Georgia state legislators that the two were “surreptitiously passing around … as if they’re vials of heroin or cocaine.”
Then, DuBose said, “Words turned into action.”
“Strange people” showed up at Freeman and Moss’ home looking for them, DuBose said, with some attempting to “make citizens’ arrests.”
“This case is about how Giuliani … made their names a call to action for millions of people who did not want to believe” the results of the 2020 election, DuBose said.
Dec 11, 2:42 PM EST
Jury instructed on Giuliani’s defamatory comments
Judge Beryl Howell, following a break, delivered a lengthy statement to jurors about details of the case — including her determination that Rudy Giuliani has already been found liable for his defamatory comments.
Howell emphasized that the panel must assume that Giuliani failed to cooperate with his discovery requirements in the case in an effort to “artificially deflate” his net worth, and that jurors must understand that Giuliani benefitted financially from his defamatory comments about Freeman and Moss.
“Your job, ladies and gentlemen, is to determine the facts,” Howell said.
Howell reminded jurors that their sole responsibility is to determine the damages associated with Giuliani’s comments.
As Howell ticked through jury instructions, Giuliani intermittently shook his head and exchanged glances with his attorney.
Dec 11, 11:11 AM EST
Judge asks juror prospects about MAGA, QAnon slogans
Prospective jurors are commonly asked to divulge any affiliations with parties in the case, or preconceived views about them. But in this case — a heavily politicized matter involving election lies — Judge Howell’s questioning has veered into some of the cryptic slogans of the far-right movement.
Howell is asking prospective jurors whether they had ever used the expression “Let’s Go Brandon” — a common refrain among President Joe Biden’s detractors — or the hashtag “WWG1WGA,” a motto associated with the QAnon movement.
She is also asking jurors whether they follow Giuliani’s social media channels.
The prospective jurors reflect the unique makeup of nation’s capitol. Among those who have been questioned: a Defense Department official, a U.S. Forest Service official, a Defense Intelligence Agency official, and a woman who had worked for the Girl Scouts.
Dec 11, 10:40 AM EST
Giuliani faces Freeman, Moss for 1st time
When Rudy Giuliani entered the courtroom some 20 minutes late due to delays with the courthouse security line, it was the first time he shared a room with Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss.
Freeman and Moss kept their backs turned away from Giuliani as he entered the courtroom. Moss appeared to swivel her chair slightly to avoid facing him directly.
Giuliani took a seat at the defendant’s table alongside his attorney, Joseph Sibley.
While waiting for Giuliani, Sibley had asked Judge Howell’s permission for Giuliani to bypass the security line moving forward. She said she would discuss it with court personnel, but laid the blame at Giuliani’s feet for his arriving “tardily.”
Dec 11, 10:11 AM EST
Judge welcomes prospective jurors to courtroom
Judge Howell has begun reading instructions to dozens of prospective jurors, after proceedings were delayed slightly due to Giuliani’s late arrival and some apparent issues with juror paperwork.
Howell rose and swore in jurors before the selection process got underway. She emphasized that she would endeavor to seat an impartial and unbiased jury.
“The court has already determined that Mr. Giuliani is liable for defamation, and that Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss are entitled to receive compensation, including in the form of punitive damages, for Mr. Giuliani’s willful conduct,” Howell told jurors.
“The only issue remaining in this trial is for the jury to determine any amount of damages Mr. Giuliani owes to plaintiffs for the damage caused by his conduct,” Howell said.
Dec 11, 9:53 AM EST
Ruling could be another blow to Giuliani’s finances
The $15.5 million to $43 million that Freeman and Moss are seeking from Giuliani reflects the emotional distress and monetary losses associated with the former mayor’s defamatory comments, according to attorneys for the mother and daughter.
If the plaintiffs receive anywhere near those figures, it would mark the latest financial blow to a man who once raked in tens of millions of dollars through security consulting and speaking fees.
Judge Beryl Howell has already ordered Giuliani to pay Freeman and Moss upwards of $230,000 as a sanction for failing to comply with the discovery process of sharing information relevant to the case. In court filings over the summer, Giuliani’s lawyer asked the judge if Giuliani could defer payment, citing the former mayor’s “financial difficulties” as a result of fighting a slew of litigation elsewhere.
Giuliani stands to owe millions more if he loses cases brought by two voting machine companies and his own longtime personal attorney, among other legal challenges he faces. Giuliani has denied all claims.
Dec 11, 8:24 AM EST
Jury selection begins this morning
Jury selection in the case gets underway at the D.C. federal courthouse this morning, where eight Washington residents will be chosen to serve.
Jurors will be tasked with attaching a monetary value to the harm caused by the defamatory statements a judge found Rudy Giuliani liable for making in the wake of the 2020 presidential election.
When the parties arrive in court this morning, it will be the first time Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss face Giuliani in person.
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