Washington — Jury selection is expected to begin Monday in a high-profile defamation lawsuit against former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, tied to his alleged efforts to undermine the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia.
The former New York City mayor was sued by two former Fulton County, Georgia, election workers, Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Wandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss. They alleged Giuliani mounted a smear campaign against them by repeatedly falsely accusing them of committing election fraud to change the outcome of the 2020 election in their state. They’re seeking from $15.5 million to $43 million for damages from Giuliani, according to recent court filings, but it’s not clear yet what the jury will award them.
U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell already found earlier this year that Giuliani was liable for several claims of defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and civil conspiracy. The jury trial that begins Monday will determine the damages to be awarded to Freeman and Moss.
The two election workers were catapulted into the public eye after Giuliani posted video of the two processing ballots on election night at State Farm Arena in Atlanta and claimed it showed they were engaged in a fake ballot processing scheme.
In June, after a long investigation, the Georgia Election Board found the “numerous allegations made against the Fulton County Department of Registration and Elections, and specifically, two election workers, were false and unsubstantiated.” It said “there was no evidence of any type of fraud as alleged.”
Judge Howell has also ordered Giuliani to reimburse Freeman and Moss for over $89,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs related to a request that the court force Giuliani to fulfill his discovery obligations. And Giuliani must ensure his eponymous businesses cover more than $43,000 in attorneys’ fees associated with an effort to force Freeman and Moss to respond to requests for documents and depositions.
Giuliani originally faced a July 25 deadline to reimburse the mother and daughter, and as a sanction for failing to repay them by that date, Howell said the jury may be instructed to “infer that [Giuliani] is intentionally trying to hide relevant discovery about his financial assets for the purpose of artificially deflating his net worth” when determining the amount to award Freeman and Moss.
At an earlier stage in the case, Giuliani conceded he had made false statements about Freeman and Moss when he claimed they engaged in voter fraud during the election, but he maintained that he was engaging in constitutionally protected speech when he leveled the accusations.
Freeman and Moss were featured prominently in the House select committee’s investigation into the Jan. 6 Capitol attack — telling Congress they’ve received numerous threats against their lives. They are mentioned in special counsel Jack Smith’s 2020 election-related indictment against Trump, in which Giuliani has been identified by CBS News as an unnamed co-conspirator.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis earlier this year indicted Giuliani and the former president for their alleged efforts to overturn Georgia’s election results. Prosecutors claim a Trump associate tried to pressure Freeman into altering her testimony about the election during a state investigation.
Trump and Giuliani have pleaded not guilty to those charges and deny any wrongdoing.
The original lawsuit was also filed against Herring Media, owner of One America News, but those parties settled the claims.
A criminal attorney for Giuliani did not respond to a request for comment, but a political adviser to Giuliani, Ted Goodman, released this statement ahead of the trial.
“In the fullness of time, this will be looked at as a dark chapter in our nation’s history, as those in power attempt to destroy their partisan political opposition in ways that cause great, irreparable harm to the U.S. justice system,” Goodman said. “I urge members of the legal community and all Americans — across the partisan political spectrum — to stand up and speak out against the weaponization of our justice system against political opponents.”
Robert Legare is a CBS News multiplatform reporter and producer covering the Justice Department, federal courts and investigations. He was previously an associate producer for the “CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell.”
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