POLITICS, ELECTIONS

Giuliani Claims the Right to Defame

Vanessa Gallman

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He admits lying about Georgia election workers who faced threats

Illustration by DonkeyHotey on Fllickr

How big must your sense of entitlement be to admit in court that you lied about innocent people committing a crime yet argue it was your right and that you are not responsible for the pain you caused?

Rudy Giuliani, who promoted President Trump’s Big Lie about a stolen election, made such a court filing this week in the case of the mother and daughter election workers he defamed, resulting in threats that made their lives unsafe.

The former New York mayor and prosecutor made the admission to avoid turning over emails and documents requested by Shaye Moss, a Georgia election worker and her mother, Ruby Freeman, who volunteered to help on election night.

They did nothing wrong and the election was fair, according to Georgia election officials and the Trump Justice Department. This is a rare lawsuit from election workers — many of whom were targeted around the country in 2020. Moss and Freeman have already settled a related case with OAN, a conservative media outlet.

While admitting his remarks “carry meaning that is defamatory per se,” Giuliani argues that his accusations were “constitutionally protected” under the First Amendment. He also refused to acknowledge that his statements had caused the women any damage.

At rallies, Trump showed video of the women moving containers of votes, accusing them of adding illegal ballots for Joe Biden. He attacked Moss 18 times, and called Freeman a “professional vote scammer” and a “hustler.” Giuliani claimed Moss handed her mother a thumb drive “like they were vials of heroin or cocaine.” Moss said in testimony to Congress that her mother had just handed her a ginger mint.

It’s hard to imagine that Giuiliani will not be penalized in this case. He is also facing disbarment proceedings in New York state and Washington, D.C., for false election fraud allegations made in court on Trump’s behalf.

Michael J. Gottlieb, the attorney for Moss and Freeman, saw Giuliani’s declaration as a win. “While certain issues, including damages, remain to be decided by the court,” he said, “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.”

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Vanessa Gallman

Experienced journalist, educator and retired opinion-page editor with occasional musings