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Ruby vs. Rudy: Giuliani faces Fulton County defamation trial next week

David Wickert, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Political News

ATLANTA — Three years ago, Ruby Freeman was on the phone with a friend when a Facebook message popped up from a woman she didn’t know. It was a reporter who wanted to interview her.

“And I’m like interview me for what?” Freeman told congressional investigators.

She found out soon enough. Earlier that day, at the Georgia Capitol, Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City and Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, had showed state legislators security footage of ballot counting at State Farm Arena. Giuliani said — falsely — it showed evidence of voter fraud. In the video were Freeman and her daughter, Shaye Moss.

As she learned what was happening, Freeman’s phone began to blow up.

“I think I need an attorney,” she messaged the reporter.

It would mark the start of a terrifying journey. As Giuliani’s story spread, strangers harassed Freeman by phone and at her home, eventually forcing her to flee. They also targeted Moss, and her 14-year-old son with racist harassment and death threats.

 

Next week, Freeman and Moss may finally face Giuliani in court.

A judge has already found Giuliani liable for defaming them. Next week a federal jury in Washington will consider how much he should pay the the two women for spreading some of the most pernicious lies about the 2020 presidential election. They are seeking tens of millions of dollars in damages.

The lawsuit is one in a constellation of libel cases arising from false claims about the 2020 election. Legal experts say sizable verdicts could deter efforts to delegitimize future American elections.

“I think it will be an assessment by the legal system that manipulating elections has very real consequences,” said Gerry Weber, an attorney who specializes in First Amendment law. He said jurors in such cases “have a larger corrective function to play in a democracy.”

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©2023 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Visit at ajc.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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