Washington — The jury in the defamation trial against Rudy Giuliani began deliberations on Thursday after the lawyer for two Georgia election workers said in closing arguments that his two clients should each be awarded $24 million.
Attorney Michael Gottlieb also argued that jurors should award Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Wandrea ArShaye Moss, more in emotional and punitive damages.
Giuliani was earlier found to be liable for several defamation claims against them.
The legal team for the two women based their calculation on the expert testimony of a Northwestern University professor who also testified in E. Jean Caroll’s defamation lawsuit against Donald Trump in New York earlier this year. Ashlee Humphreys spoke about the millions of impressions that 16 “actionable statements” Giuliani made had online and on television.
“That amount is not even close to the amount of reputational damage that our clients have suffered in this case,” Gottlieb argued.
Gottlieb told the jury the harm caused to his clients was part of a concerted effort by Giuliani and the Trump legal teams to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
“The lies in this case became a sustained deliberate campaign the purpose of which was to overturn an election,” Gottlieb said.
“They aimed and they fired” at Freeman and Moss, Gottlieb said, later contending that Giuliani and his co-conspirators, including Trump, were “assassinating the name and character of ordinary people.”
Even after U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell found Giuliani liable for defamation, the former Trump lawyer continued to spread lies about Freeman and Moss — up to 20 times since August 2023 and up until the first day of trial, Gottlieb estimated.
The jurors will have to decide how much in reputational harm, emotional distress and punitive damages to aware the pair.
Giuliani opted not to testify earlier Thursday, even though he had told reporters a day earlier that he intended to do so. His defense rested without calling any witnesses.
In his closing argument, Giuliani’s attorney, Joseph Sibley, did not refute the facts of the case or the emotional testimony of Freemon and Moss.
“It’s been hard to watch the victims in this case,” he said in his closing argument. “Everything you saw was 100% genuine.”
Still, he said the damages they seek are “catastrophic” and “inappropriate” to what Giuliani actually did, taking aim at the plaintiff’s expert witness. Sibley called Humphreys’ testimony “rehearsed” and “robot-like.”
“Justice requires an actual reasonable estimate of damages and not what their expert witness who has only done this one time to Donald Trump testified that they should get,” he said.
Sibley placed blame for the initial harm Freeman and Moss suffered at the feet of the first website to identify them, the Gateway Pundit, and showed the jury a lawsuit the pair has filed against the site. The plaintiffs’ attorneys contend injecting the conspiracy theories into media accounts was part of the Trump legal team’s plan.
“That’s how the names got out. That’s how everyone knew who they were,” he argued.
Sibley also contended that the expert witness’ reputation restoration campaign model — which she said could cost millions of dollars should Freeman and Moss embark on it — is likely useless as the people who believed Giuliani’s lies would believe them “no matter what.”
Sibley also distanced Giuliani from the racist and violent threats that Freeman and Moss received, telling them he had not intended for such messages to be sent.
“Rudy Giuliani is a good man … he hasn’t exactly helped himself” in recent days, the defense attorney said. “Rudy Giuliani shouldn’t be defined by what’s happened in recent times.”
Sibley urged the jury to consider his client’s past and his work as mayor of New York, particularly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Speaking with reporters this week outside of court, Giuliani sought to distance himself from the threatening and racist messages the two received, saying he had no idea who the people were who sent them. Still, days earlier, Giuliani told reporters he had told the truth about 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. An investigation by the Georgia secretary of state laterconcluded, “All allegations made against Freeman and Moss were unsubstantiated and found to have no merit.”
Giuliani has also conceded that he had made false statements about Freeman and Moss when he claimed they engaged in voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election. However, he maintained that he was engaging in constitutionally protected speech when he leveled the accusations.