Ex-Trump lawyer Giuliani ordered to pay $148 mn for defaming poll workers

Ex-Trump lawyer Giuliani ordered to pay 8 mn for defaming poll workers

WASHINGTON (AFP): A jury ordered Donald Trump’s former lawyer Rudy Giuliani to pay $148 million in damages on Friday for defaming two Georgia poll workers with his false claims they engaged in election fraud.

The eight-person federal jury awarded Ruby Freeman and her daughter Wandrea “Shaye” Moss more than $16 million each for defamation, $20 million each for emotional distress and $75 million in punitive damages.

The 79-year-old Giuliani was found liable in August of defaming the Fulton County poll workers with his 2020 election lies on behalf of former president Trump.

Giuliani, who led Trump’s legal efforts to overturn the results of the election, posted a video of the pair that falsely accused them of engaging in fraud during ballot-counting and made numerous other baseless claims about them.

Speaking to reporters following the damages award, Moss said the “past few years have been devastating.”

“The flame that Giuliani lit with those lies and passed to so many others to keep that flame blazing changed every aspect of our lives, our homes, our family, our work, our sense of safety, our mental health,” she said.

Giuliani denounced the damages award as “absurd” and told reporters he would appeal.

“I am quite confident when this case gets before a fair tribunal it’ll be reversed so quickly,” he told reporters.

Giuliani also appeared to double down on his baseless allegations against the 64-year-old Freeman and the 39-year-old Moss.

“I have no doubt that my comments were made and they were supportable and are supportable today,” he said. “I just did not have an opportunity to present the evidence that we offered.”

Freeman and Moss, who are Black, testified during the four-day trial that the false accusations of election fraud made against them by Giuliani had completely upended their lives and they were the target of vile racist threats.

The defamation case is just one of a number of legal challenges facing Giuliani, who has been indicted on racketeering charges in Georgia along with Trump and others for allegedly conspiring to overturn the 2020 election results in the southern state.

Giuliani was New York mayor from 1994 to 2001, guiding the city through the shock of the September 11 attacks and becoming known as “America’s Mayor” — before signing up as Trump’s personal lawyer while he was in the White House.

Giuliani’s license to practice law has been suspended in New York and in Washington for “false and misleading statements” he made as part of his efforts to overturn the results of the election won by Joe Biden.

Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son, has also filed a lawsuit against Giuliani accusing him of computer fraud for accessing personal data on his computer.

In 2020, in a bid to embarrass Biden ahead of the election, Giuliani and Trump allies circulated data from a laptop that Hunter Biden had abandoned at a computer repair shop in Delaware.