When Rudy Giuliani enters federal court on Monday, the only uncertainty lies in the severity of the sanctions he will face for spreading falsehoods about the 2020 election.
U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell has already determined his liability for defaming two Georgia election workers—Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss. Following false accusations by Giuliani and Donald Trump, the two workers, Freeman and Moss, experienced threats and harassment, leading to a proliferation of conspiracy theories that persist to this day.
In the upcoming trial, a Washington, D.C. jury will decide the damages Giuliani must pay for defamation, infliction of emotional distress, and other punitive costs. While Freeman and Moss haven’t specified a precise amount, they plan to present expert testimony to estimate the harm they have suffered.
This trial marks another step towards accountability for those involved in Trump’s attempts to undermine the 2020 election. While criminal proceedings progress slowly, actions such as civil lawsuits and disbarment proceedings have moved more swiftly. Giuliani’s law license was suspended last year, pending a decision on making that sanction permanent, due to ethical violations related to his efforts to invalidate millions of Pennsylvania votes.
Freeman and Moss play crucial roles in two criminal cases against Trump—his federal conspiracy case in Washington, D.C., and his racketeering case in Georgia. Prosecutors in both cases detail how Trump amplified Giuliani’s lies about the women, including a notorious phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on January 2, 2021.
Giuliani, identified as “co-conspirator 1” in the federal case, faces criminal charges alongside Trump in the Georgia case. Freeman and Moss, key witnesses in a House Jan. 6 select committee hearing, have described enduring death threats and attacks for the past three years.
The damages trial involves Howell, the judge overseeing Giuliani’s trial, who previously handled various legal proceedings related to Trump’s attempts to disrupt the transfer of power. Giuliani’s liability for defamation was established due to his repeated failure to preserve and turn over evidence, according to Howell’s rulings.
The case against Giuliani relies on evidence from close associates, including Bernie Kerik and Giuliani himself. Freeman and Moss plan to call an expert to quantify the reach of Giuliani’s statements and the harm they claim he caused.
Giuliani has faced criticism from Howell, who has at times demanded his presence in the courtroom for pretrial matters. Giuliani’s attorney was recently reprimanded for failing to inform him of the court’s expectations. Giuliani, in response, has criticized Howell’s alleged biases and prejudices.
In addition to criminal charges, disbarment proceedings, and the lawsuit by Freeman and Moss, Giuliani faces lawsuits from various individuals, including Hunter Biden. Despite financial strain, Giuliani has organized fundraisers for his defense. Trump’s PAC contributed $300,000 to cover a vendor bill in the Freeman-Moss lawsuit.
Howell plans to impanel an eight-member jury, with Freeman and Moss’s lawyers expecting three days to present their case.