Giuliani to face Georgia poll workers as defamation case heads to trial

Georgia election workers will confront Giuliani as the defamation case approaches trial

While calculating the results of Georgia’s 2020 election, Fulton County poll worker Ruby Freeman handed a ginger mint to her daughter, another poll worker named Shaye Moss.

But, according to a report by Georgia’s State Election Board, a video of that interaction showed evidence of election fraud against former President Trump — proof of the mother-daughter pair passing a USB drive between them to scan ballots hidden in suitcases under tables at Atlanta’s State Farm Arena.

Following Giuliani’s bogus charges, poll workers faced a storm of threats in the months that followed.

“I’ve lost my sense of security, all because a group of people — starting with Number 45 and his ally Rudy Giuliani — decided to scapegoat me and my daughter, Shaye, in order to push their own lies about how the presidential election was stolen,” Freeman stated in a House committee deposition on Jan. 6.

On Monday, Freeman and Moss will face Giuliani in court when a trial over his fake charges against them begins in federal court in Washington, D.C. Giuliani and the two poll workers must appear at the trial, which is scheduled to take approximately a week. The case will be decided by an eight-member jury of Washington residents.

In December 2021, the two election workers sued Giuliani for “defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, civil conspiracy, and punitive damage.”

“Defendant Rudy Giuliani bears substantial and outsized responsibility for the campaign of partisan character assassination against Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss,” Georgia election workers said in an updated complaint filed in May 2022.

They further accused Giuliani of leading a “sustained smear campaign” against them by accusing them constantly of participating in the alleged “crime of the century.”

A series of investigations led by three law enforcement organizations concluded that the allegations against Freeman and Moss “were false and unsubstantiated.” Giuliani later stated in court filings that he will “not contest” that his words were “false” and “carry defamatory meaning,” but that they were “constitutionally protected.”

The former New York City mayor has already been found civilly liable for those claims by U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell; the trial will determine how much money he owes them as a result.

The trial is most likely only the beginning of Giuliani’s legal battles with the poll workers.

The mother and daughter are likely to be important witnesses in Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ racketeering case against Giuliani, Trump, and more than a dozen other people suspected of conspiring to keep Trump in office after he loses the 2020 election. The trial date has not yet been established, but state prosecutors have urged that it begin in August.

Freeman’s name appears more than 40 times throughout the lengthy indictment.

One of Giuliani’s 13 counts was related to his claims that Freeman, Moss, and an unidentified man were “quite obviously surreptitiously passing around USB ports as if they’re vials of heroin or cocaine” to be used to “infiltrate the crooked Dominion voting machines,” which state prosecutors say violated Georgia’s law against making false statements and writings.

Following Giuliani’s fake accusations, which propelled Freeman and her daughter into the spotlight, a small group of Trump supporters reportedly attempted to influence Freeman’s assertions about what transpired at the arena, claiming to “offer her help,” according to the 98-page indictment.

Prosecutors claim that Illinois pastor Stephen Lee went to Freeman’s house and chatted with her neighbor with the intent of misleading Freeman and “influencing her testimony in an official proceeding.” Lee then enlisted the support of Black Voices for Trump leader Harrison Floyd to persuade Freeman, who was wary of speaking with Lee “because he was a white man.” Both Freeman and Moss are African-American. According to the indictment, Floyd then hired Trevian Kutti, a former publicist for musician Ye, then known as Kanye West, to join their efforts a month later.

Kutti met with Freeman at the request of an unidentified “high-profile individual” and urged him to confess to Trump’s election fraud allegations or face jail time within 48 hours, according to Reuters.

In the Georgia case, Lee, Floyd, and Kutti are all charged alongside Giuliani.

As part of the poll workers’ case, two other Georgia defendants, lawyers Jenna Ellis and Ray Smith III, were deposed. Ellis agreed to assist with Fulton County prosecutors and pled guilty to a lesser crime, although Smith has pleaded not guilty.

Their testimony, however, which is scheduled to be aired during the trial, is unlikely to provide much insight. According to Howell, Ellis invoked her Fifth Amendment right more than 400 times during the deposition, while Smith invoked it more than 300 times.

According to Giuliani’s counsel, the ex-mayor intends to testify during the defamation trial and will not exercise that right. Lawyers representing Freeman and Moss informed the judge that they intend to call four witnesses and provide video footage from various depositions.

In an emailed statement, Ted Goodman, Giuliani’s political consultant, told The Hill that Giuliani is still the “same man who took down the Mafia, cleaned up New York City, and comforted the nation following September 11th.”

“In the fullness of time, this will be looked at as a dark chapter in our nation’s history, as those in power attempt to destroy their partisan political opposition in ways that cause great, irreparable harm to the U.S. justice system,” Goodman went on to say.

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