June 17, 2024

Rudy Giuliani won’t contest defamation claims from Georgia election workers in long-running lawsuit

Rudy Giuliani will not contest claims from two Georgia election workers who have accused the former attorney to Donald Trump of smearing them with false and defamatory statements surrounding the 2020 presidential election.

A late-night federal court filing from Mr Giuliani’s attorneys on 25 July states that he “concedes solely for the purposes of this litigation” that he made false statements about Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss that “carry meaning that is defamatory”.

He also conceded that his statements meet the “factual elements of liability” for their claims that amounted to “intentional infliction of emotional distress”.

The two women were subject to relentless abuse fuelled by false claims that they manipulated votes, damage that Mr Giuliani has refused to concede stemmed from his statements.

“Giuliani’s stipulation concedes what we have always known to be true,” attorney Michael J Gottlieb Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP said in a statement. “Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss honorably performed their civic duties in the 2020 presidential election in full compliance with the law; and the allegations of election fraud he and former-President Trump made against them have been false since day one.”

“While certain issues, including damages, remain to be decided by the court, our clients are pleased with this major milestone in their fight for justice, and look forward to presenting what remains of this case at trial,” he added.

The two-page filing from Mr Giuliani’s attorneys indicates he will continue to argue that spurious claims about voter fraud in the state were protected speech. A spokesperson for the former New York City mayor indicated that the concession was in an effort to bypass a fact-finding portion of the case, which would involve the public disclosures of emails, text messages and other communications involving his claims.

US District Court Judge Beryl Howell had threatened Mr Giuliani with sanctions and put him on the hook for $90,000 in legal fees following claims that he failed to preserve evidence related to the case. His latest filing came as a response to an order from the judge demanding an explanation.

Ted Goodman, political adviser to Mr Giuliani, said in a statement shared with The Independent that he “did not acknowledge that the statements were false but did not contest it in order to move on to the portion of the case that will permit a motion to dismiss.”

“This is a legal issue, not a factual issue. Those out to smear the mayor are ignoring the fact that this stipulation is designed to get to the legal issues of the case,” he added.

In their testimony to the House select committee investigating the events surrounding the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, Ms Freeman and Ms Moss revealed the depth of abuse they endured, forcing them from their jobs and making them feel unsafe after the former president and Mr Giuliani promoted debunked conspiracy theories involving them.

They later filed a defamation suit against Mr Giuliani as well as right-wing outlet One American News Network, which settled with the women last year.

A report from Georgia’s State Election Board following a year-long investigation also dismissed bogus claims of election fraud and cleared the allegations against the women.

The fraud claims were “unsubstantiated and found to have no merit,” the investigation concluded, reporting on the work of the FBI, the Georgia Bureau of Investigations and investigators from the Secretary of State’s office vetting the alleged fraud

Earlier this month, Bernie Kerik – a former New York City Police Department commissioner who worked with Mr Giuliani to support bogus voter fraud claims – was directed by the judge to provide “a document-by-document privilege log of any withheld record that provides sufficient information to ‘enable other parties to assess the claim’ that ‘the information is privileged or subject to protection as trial preparation material.’”

He also was ordered to show why those records and other statements should be withheld.

But a joint filing on 24 July from attorneys for Mr Kerik and the two election workers reveals that the parties reached an agreement to receive those documents – which were also sought in the unrelated federal investigation surrounding Mr Trump and his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.

The former president’s campaign withdrew its claim of privilege over those documents, and Mr Kerik’s legal team has handed over thousands of documents to prosecutors investigating the former president’s mindset and decision making as he baselessly stated that the 2020 election was “stolen” and “rigged” against him despite a lack of evidence.

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