Giuliani Concedes He Made False Statements About Georgia Election Workers
"Rudolph W. Giuliani said he still had “legal defenses” in a case brought by two election workers who said he had defamed them as he asserted that the 2020 election was marred by fraud.
Rudolph W. Giuliani has conceded that while acting as a lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump, he made false statements by asserting that two Georgia election workers had mishandled ballots while counting votes in Atlanta during the 2020 election.
The concession by Mr. Giuliani came in court papers filed on Tuesday night as part of a defamation lawsuit that the two workers, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, had brought against him in Federal District Court in Washington in December 2021.
The suit accused Mr. Giuliani and others of promoting a video that purported to show Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss — who are mother and daughter — of manipulating ballots while working at the State Farm Arena for the Fulton County Board of Elections.
In a two-page declaration, Mr. Giuliani acknowledged that he had in fact made the statements about Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss that led to the filing of the suit and that the remarks “carry meaning that is defamatory per se.” He also admitted that his statements were “actionable” and “false” and that he no longer disputed the “factual elements of liability” the election workers had raised in their suit.
But Mr. Giuliani, insisting that he still had “legal defenses” in the case, said that he continued to believe his accusations about Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss were “constitutionally protected” under the First Amendment. He also refused to acknowledge that his statements had caused the women any damage — a key element required to collect a judgment in a defamation case.
The declaration was filed as Mr. Giuliani was confronting potentially painful sanctions for having purportedly failed to live up to his discovery obligations in the case. It appeared to be part of an effort to move past the discovery phase, which had saddled Mr. Giuliani with crippling expenses.
In the declaration, he acknowledged making his concessions “to avoid unnecessary expenses in litigating what he believes to be unnecessary disputes.”
Ted Goodman, a spokesman for Mr. Giuliani, said he had made the concessions to move the case more quickly to a point where a motion to dismiss could be filed.
Michael J. Gottlieb, a lawyer for Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss, said that Mr. Giuliani’s declaration conceded that his clients had “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 1.”
“While certain issues, including damages, remain to be decided by the court, our clients are pleased with this major milestone in their fight for justice,” Mr. Gottlieb added, “and look forward to presenting what remains of this case at trial.”
The lawsuit filed by Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss was among the first to be brought by individual election workers who found themselves dragged into the alternate universe of right-wing politicians and media figures who claimed that Mr. Trump had won the election. The two women had originally sued other defendants, including the One America News Network and some of its top officials, but ultimately settled the case against everyone except Mr. Giuliani.
It was one of a series of defamation cases where plaintiffs sought to use the courts to seek accountability against public figures or media outlets that lied about the outcome of the 2020 election and its aftermath.
In April, Fox News paid more than $787 million to settle claims by Dominion Voting Systems over the network’s promotion of misinformation about the election. Ray Epps, an Arizona man who took part in the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, sued Fox this month, claiming that its former host Tucker Carlson had promoted a “fantastical story” that Mr. Epps was an undercover government agent who instigated the violence that day as a way to disparage Mr. Trump and his supporters.
Last year, Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss appeared as witnesses at a public hearing of the House select committee investigating Jan. 6 and told the story of what happened after Mr. Giuliani amplified the false claims that they had pulled thousands of fraudulent ballots from a suitcase in their vote-counting station and illegally fed them through voting machines.
Although Fulton County and Georgia officials immediately debunked the accusations, Mr. Giuliani kept promoting them, ultimately comparing the women — both of whom are Black — to drug dealers and calling during a hearing with Georgia state legislators for their homes to be searched.
Mr. Trump invoked Ms. Freeman’s name 18 times during a phone call with Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state, on Jan. 2, 2021. In the call, Mr. Trump asked Mr. Raffensperger to help him “find” 11,800 votes — enough to swing the results in Georgia away from the winner, Joseph R. Biden Jr.
“I’ve lost my name, and I’ve lost my reputation,” Ms. Freeman testified to the House committee, adding as her voice rose with emotion, “Do you know how it feels to have the president of the United States target you?”
The defamation suit is only one of several legal problems Mr. Giuliani faces.
Three weeks ago, a legal ethics committee in Washington said he should be disbarred for his “unparalleled” attempts to help Mr. Trump overturn the 2020 election.
A few weeks earlier, Mr. Giuliani sat for a voluntary interview with prosecutors working for the special counsel, Jack Smith, answering questions about, among other things, a plan to create fake slates of pro-Trump electors in key swing states that Mr. Biden had won. And he could face charges in an investigation, led by the district attorney in Fulton County, into efforts to reverse Mr. Trump’s 2020 loss in Georgia.
Reid J. Epstein contributed reporting."