Giuliani doubles down on attacks against defamed election workers — now they're suing him again

The "clever" lawsuit may land Giuliani in jail if he violates court order, former prosecutor warns

By Tatyana Tandanpolie

Staff Writer

Published December 19, 2023 11:31AM (EST)

Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and her daughter Shaye Moss speak outside of the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. District Courthouse on December 15, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and her daughter Shaye Moss speak outside of the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. District Courthouse on December 15, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The two Georgia election workers who just won a $148 million defamation lawsuit against Rudy Giuliani want the Donald Trump lawyer's election lie peddling to stop, and they're taking action.

Just three days after a Washington, D.C. jury delivered a massive verdict in their favor over Giuliani's false claims that they committed election fraud in 2020, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss filed a new lawsuit against the former New York City mayor on Monday, seeking to prohibit him from repeating the election allegations — as he did multiple times during and after last week's trial.

According to Politico, the new suit requests a court injunction that would block Giuliani from continuing to peddle his false election claims about the mother-daughter duo. Though the complaint doesn't explicitly pursue any monetary damages, paperwork filed with the case says it is seeking more than $75,000.

Freeman and Moss immediately asked for the case to be assigned to U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell, who presided over last week's trial and earlier this year ruled Giuliani liable in the defamation case after finding that he willfully defied attempts by the plaintiffs and the court to corral evidence related to their claims.

Despite the pressures imposed by the new suit, Giuliani returned to pushing his false fraud claims hours after the complaint dropped. 

When Newsmax host Rob Schmitt questioned Giuliani about the second lawsuit and the injunction it seeks on Monday night, the lawyer said it "sounds kind of un-American."

“That’s prior restraint," Giuliani continued. "Are they actually going to put a gag on me when I walk around? I mean, this bears no relationship to my learning in law school about the First Amendment, the right of free speech.”

He went on to bemoan not being allowed to defend himself during last week's trial before Schmitt asked if he still believed the allegations he leveled toward the women. 

“Yeah. Well of course they’ll sue me again for it when I say that. But yeah, I do,” Giuliani replied, echoing his insistence from last week when he said outside the courthouse that "everything I said about them is true" and added, "Of course I don't regret it. ... I told the truth. They were engaged in changing votes."

“But they want me to lie. They basically—they are suing me in order to lie to them. I’m sorry. I can’t do it,” Giuliani told Schmitt with a chuckle.

“If I showed you the evidence right now—and I think you’ve played it on your air—people would see that what I said was absolutely true and there’s support for it.”

In December 2020, Giuliani alleged that during ballot counting, Freeman and Moss added fake votes by “quite obviously, surreptitiously, passing around USB ports as if they’re vials of heroin or cocaine.” But the women both testified that Freeman was giving her daughter a ginger mint. 

After the end of the interview, Schmitt encouraged viewers to donate to Giuliani.

“If you’d like to help Mayor Giuliani fight what is an utterly ridiculous verdict, and specifically the damages—$148 million—donate to the Giuliani Legal Defense Fund,” he said, as a phone number and website address showed on screen. “President Trump has endorsed this fund, urges you to support it. We’d like you to donate.”

Former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade called the new lawsuit "really clever."

"They've already got $148 million as a judgment, so they're not looking for more money," McQuade explained on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Tuesday. "What they really want is for Rudy to shut the hell up."

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If the court-ordered injunction to stop Giuliani from further spreading the false claims is granted, McQuade elaborated, it allows the parties to seek a contempt order if he continues to peddle the allegations. If held in contempt of court, the judge could then jail him until he complies for up to 18 months, she added. 

"That may be what they're seeking here, is the ability to hold that over his head, and maybe that'll provide some disincentive to finally cause him to stop spreading these lies," McQuade concluded.

Former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner noted that Giuliani's continued attacks on the women following despite his court loss further puts him at risk of violating the terms of his pretrial release in Fulton County, Ga., where he's charged with 13 counts in a criminal racketeering case.

"Here's the part where we're talking about the intersection," Kirschner told MSNBC. "You know, he is on release in the Georgia case. I have his release conditions right here, and Joy, number five is that the defendant, Giuliani, 'shall perform no act to intimidate any person known to him to be a co-defendant or witness in the case, or to otherwise obstruct the administration of justice.'

"What is he doing? After that jury award in D.C., he's intimidating and endangering the lives of the witnesses in the Georgia case, Shaye Moss and Ruby Freeman," Kirschner continued. "They will almost certainly testify in Georgia."

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The former federal prosecutor also noted that Giuliani's transgressions weren't minor, pointing to another defendant in the case — Harrison Floyd — who returned to court to answer to an allegation that he intimidated witnesses, and narrowly dodged pretrial detention because of the discretion of presiding Judge Scott McAfee.

"How about Rudy?" Kirschner added. "It feels like Rudy should now be up because it sure looks like he's violating the conditions of his release in the Georgia case by continuing to intimidate, lie about, defame, and endanger Shaye Moss and Ruby Freeman."

Freeman and Moss on Monday also urged Howell to hasten efforts to enforce the $148 million judgment, pointing to reports of Giuliani's soaring debts, which they say could prompt him to find ways to dodge payments, Politico reported. 

“Given that Defendant Giuliani has already refused for months to pay the fees awarded in this Court’s prior sanctions orders, there is especially good reason to believe that Defendant Giuliani intends to evade payment of the judgment by any means he can devise,” argued Michael Gottlieb, a lawyer for Freeman and Moss.

In August Howell ruled that Giuliani was liable for defaming the women, a conclusion she founded in part on his refusal to maintain and turn over key evidence in the case. In that decision, Howell also noted that Giuliani had concealed efforts to determine his net worth and assets that she had sought information on in previous court orders.

Now, the plaintiffs argue they need to jump on those assets before Giuliani has the opportunity to rid himself of them.

“There is a substantial risk that Defendant Giuliani will find a way to dissipate those assets before Plaintiffs are able to recover,” Gottlieb wrote, adding, “Giuliani is widely reported to have other, significant debts threatening his personal solvency.”

An eight-member jury awarded the women $148 million on Friday in a unanimous verdict that included $75 million in "punitive" damages meant to prevent future efforts to disparage election workers involved in counting votes in future elections. 

Even if Howell rules in favor of the election workers' on the pending matter and Giuliani is unsuccessful in his promised appeal, due to the former mayor's current financial state, it's unlikely Freeman and Moss will receive any amount close to the full award, the outlet notes. 

By Tatyana Tandanpolie

Tatyana Tandanpolie is a staff writer at Salon. Born and raised in central Ohio, she moved to New York City in 2018 to pursue degrees in Journalism and Africana Studies at New York University. She is currently based in her home state and has previously written for local Columbus publications, including Columbus Monthly, CityScene Magazine and The Columbus Dispatch.

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Aggregate Politics Ruby Freeman Rudy Giuliani Shaye Moss