In a landmark decision that marks a significant downfall for Rudy Giuliani, once hailed as “America’s Mayor,” a jury has unanimously ordered him to pay a staggering $148 million in damages to two Georgia election workers he defamed. This judgment not only deepens Giuliani’s legal woes but likely seals his financial doom.
Giuliani’s actions during the aftermath of the 2020 elections, where he unabashedly supported Donald Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud, have now culminated in this heavy financial penalty. He specifically targeted Shaye Moss and her mother, Ruby Freeman, two Black election workers, falsely accusing them of election fraud based on a misleadingly cropped video. Giuliani’s claims, which were thoroughly debunked by Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State, led to severe and racist harassment against Freeman and Moss, including death threats.
Despite Giuliani’s admission in July that his claims were “defamatory” and “false,” he continued to act with apparent arrogance and disregard for the judicial process. His late arrival at the trial and continued defiance outside the courtroom did him no favors with the judge or jurors. In a bizarre twist, despite his public bravado and promises to “take the gloves off,” Giuliani chose not to testify in his defense.
The trial’s outcome is a poignant reminder of the consequences of reckless political rhetoric and the power of the legal system to hold individuals accountable. Giuliani’s lawyer, Joseph Sibley, attempted to invoke his client’s past as a New York City mayor and federal prosecutor to mitigate the damages. However, this plea for leniency was overshadowed by Giuliani’s conduct and the gravity of his accusations against Freeman and Moss.
Michael Gottlieb, representing the plaintiffs, brilliantly dismantled Giuliani’s defense in his closing argument. He highlighted the elitist nature of Giuliani’s stance, emphasizing that no individual, regardless of fame or fortune, should be allowed to trample on the rights and reputations of ordinary citizens. Gottlieb’s argument resonated with the jury, leading to a verdict that not only seeks to compensate the victims for their suffering but also serves as a stark warning against the dangers of political misinformation and defamation.
Giuliani’s story is a cautionary tale for our times, particularly for young and progressive readers. It underscores the importance of holding public figures accountable for their actions and the need to protect the integrity of our democratic processes. In an era where misinformation can spread like wildfire, this verdict sends a strong message about the responsibility that comes with public platforms and the power of the truth to eventually prevail.