Rudy Giuliani concedes he made defamatory statements about Georgia election workers

Rudy Giuliani concedes he made defamatory statements about Georgia election workers

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Rudy Giuliani concedes he made defamatory statements about Georgia election workers
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CNN
 — 

Rudy Giuliani concedes he made defamatory statements about Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss in an effort to resolve their lawsuit against him and to satisfy a judge who has considered sanctioning him.

The late-night Tuesday filing from Giuliani says he doesn’t contest Moss and Freeman’s accusations that he smeared them after the 2020 election. Yet the filing says he still wants to be able to argue that his statements about voter fraud in Georgia in the 2020 election were protected speech. Notably, he also refuses to concede that his statements caused damages to Moss or Freeman.

The new filing doesn’t immediately resolve the case against Giuliani, which had taken a thorny turn for the former prosecutor and New York City mayor after a judge cautioned him earlier this month that he could lose the lawsuit or face severe sanctions for not gathering his own records in a thorough way and turning them over to Moss and Freeman’s team as they move through the case.

The federal judge, Beryl A. Howell of the DC District Court, is still weighing parts of Giuliani’s filings from Tuesday, which also try to provide explanations for why he didn’t search his records more thoroughly.

On Wednesday, Howell acknowledged Giuliani’s concessions in the lawsuit and ordered him to pay more of Moss and Freeman’s legal fees, after previously ordering him to pay them $90,000.

It’s also not clear how criminal prosecutors from the Justice Department’s special counsel’s office, who have interviewed Giuliani, will perceive the unusual move Giuliani is making in the lawsuit.

Lawyers for Moss and Freeman are set to respond next week in court to many of Giuliani’s latest statements, though their lead attorney on Wednesday morning called Giuliani’s concessions a “major milestone” in the case.

“Giuliani’s stipulation concedes what we have always known to be true—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,” their lawyer Michael J. Gottlieb, a partner at Willkie, Farr & Gallagher, said in a statement.

Giuliani has scrambled in recent weeks to contain consequences he may face from the case Moss and Freeman are pursuing against him. At the same time, he has tried to handle legal issues that are arising in the lawsuit without damaging himself in the other legal situations that present risks around him.

In addition to federal and state criminal investigations around the 2020 election that have looked at Giuliani and defamation lawsuits, including Moss and Freeman’s, Giuliani is also facing disbarment proceedings in New York state and Washington, DC, for false election fraud allegations he surfaced in court on Trump’s behalf without verifying them first.

CNN’s senior legal analyst Elie Honig characterized the move by Giuliani on Wednesday as “desperate” and “trying to cut his losses here.”

“He is now making the remarkable concession: ‘Yes, I lied about them,’ which you almost never see – maybe never see – in a defamation case because usually that’s the whole ball game,” Honig said. “But what he’s trying to do here is limit his exposure.”

His phrasing in his court filing makes clear Giuliani is attempting to have his concessions only apply to the lawsuit, in an attempt to avoid consequences from the judge for avoiding turning over documents.

In his court filing, Giuliani specifically said he “does not contest” that assertions he made about the women – whom he accused of being part of a vote-manipulation scheme in Georgia – “were false.”

“Defendant Giuliani concedes solely for the purposes of this litigation … that Defendant Giuliani made the statements of and concerning plaintiffs,” his filing said. “He does not dispute for the purposes of this litigation, that the statements carry meaning that is defamatory per se.”

Hours after making the filing, a political adviser to Giuliani issued a statement further parsing Giuliani’s concessions.

“Mayor Rudy Giuliani 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,” Ted Goodman, the Giuliani adviser said.

“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.”

In their complaint, Moss and Freeman accused Giuliani of scapegoating them in a fabricated effort to undermine how votes were counted in Georgia in 2020.

His statements about them, which they say are all false, included calling them ballot-stuffing criminal conspirators. Giuliani also drew attention to a video of them after the election, which was first posted by the Trump campaign and showed part of a security tape of ballot counting in Atlanta. Giuliani posted on social media and said on his podcast and other broadcasts that the video showed suitcases filled with ballots, when it did not capture anything but normal ballot processing, according to their lawsuit and a state investigation.

Georgia election officials have debunked Giuliani’s accusations of fraud happening during the ballot counting.

The mother-daughter duo have been candid about how their lives were impacted by Trump and Giuliani’s claims that they were guilty of election fraud.

“There is nowhere I feel safe. Nowhere. Do you know how it feels to have the President of the United States target you?” Freeman said last year in a video testimony to the House select committee that investigated January 6.

Moss’ privacy was destroyed when she learned that Giuliani had accused her mother, Freeman, of passing some kind of USB drive to her like “vials of cocaine or heroin” as part of an elaborate vote-stealing scheme. In reality, the object in question was a ginger mint, she said. In his controversial call when he asked Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to find votes, Trump attacked Moss 18 times, and the former president called Freeman a “professional vote scammer” and a “hustler.”

“I felt horrible, I felt like it was all my fault,” Moss said during her testimony last year. “I just felt like it was, it was my fault for putting my family in this situation.”

She added that she and her mother are now afraid to even go outside, or to the supermarket after getting threats “wishing death upon me, telling me that you know, I’ll be in jail with my mother and saying things like – ‘be glad it’s 2020 and not 1920.’”

During Giuliani’s disinformation campaign about the vote in Georgia, the FBI recommended Freeman leave her home for her own safety, according to the lawsuit.

This story has been updated with additional information.


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Rudy Giuliani concedes he made defamatory statements about Georgia election workers

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