A Judge Just Ruled That There Is ‘Ample Evidence’ Of ‘Conspiracy’ Between Rudy Giuliani And The Trump Campaign In Georgia

Rudy Giuliani‘s efforts to dismiss a defamation suit by Georgia election workers were just denied this week, and a judge ultimately ruled that two election workers presented enough evidence to justify their case against the former New York City mayor. Federal judge U.S. District Court Chief Judge Beryl Howell rejected the politician’s recent attempt to dismiss the lawsuit brought by two GA election employees— who he falsely accused of election fraud as Politico reports— which lead to online harassment against both women, and violent threats as well.

 

Judge Howell’s Ruling

In a 27-page opinion, Howell wrote that the case (that was brought by a mother and daughter, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss) was enough to justify progressing their lawsuit against Giuliani, 78. Howell indicated that the duo presented “ample circumstantial evidence” of a “civil conspiracy between Giuliani and members of the Trump Campaign.” Howell deemed Giuliani to be a “current media personality and former politician once dubbed ‘America’s mayor'” and referred to Giuliani as a principal figure in spewing false election fraud claims.

Moss and Freeman were repeatedly accused by twice-impeached former president Donald Trump, 78, Giuliani and their allies of election fraud. Trump, Giuliani and their devotees citied surveillance videos from inside an Atlanta vote tabulation center that they claimed showed Freeman and Moss moving and tampering with suitcases filled with so-called illegal ballots. Georgia and federal investigators, however, as Politico writes, “repeatedly and conclusively debunked” these claims, and found that the two women performed routine election-related functions. Unsurprisingly, they were not indicative of fraud at all whatsoever, with Giuliani and Trump promoting misinformation.

Other Details of the Defamation Lawsuit

Freeman and Moss filed the lawsuit on December 23, 2021, initially accusing Giuliani and other defendants of “defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and civil conspiracy.” In May of 2021, they amended the suit to focus solely on Giuliani, and aimed to seek unspecified monetary damages. Howell found that the claims from Giuliani, Trump and their allies were all part of a sweeping “strategic plan” led by Giuliani that contributed to “widespread distrust in the outcome of the 2020 election,” as Politico notes.

Despite repeated, proven debunking of the claims, Trump’s former lawyer and Trump himself continued to promote the false information about Moss and Freeman, which led to them being attacked and harrassed by the politicians’ allies online.  Trump specifically mentioned Freeman by her name during a January 4, 2021 phone call with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

During the call, Trump demanded that GA officials “find” enough votes in the attempt to reverse his defeat in the state. Howell also noted that Raffensperger replied to Trump during the call, and said, “I think it’s extremely unfortunate that Rudy Giuliani or his people, they sliced and diced that video and took it out of context.”

The Impact of the Case

Overall, Howell’s ruling allows Freeman and Moss’ lawsuit against Giuliani to continue to the “discovery” phase. This means that Moss and Freeman will be able to demand additional evidence to support their claims. This is the latest development in the legal efforts to “unravel and assess the damage wrought by Trump and his allies’ for propagating false claims of election fraud,” Politico points out. In addition, the outlet notes that Howell’s ruling is important since Howell, as chief judge, presides over the grand jury investigating efforts by Trump and his allies to subvert the 2020 election.

For Freeman and Moss, who the publication indicates provided “emotional public testimony the Jan. 6 select committee in June,” the consequences of Giuliani and Trump’s claims were devastating. The two women were accosted and targeted online, with Freeman even needing to flee her home for her safety at the FBI’s recommendation just ahead of the infamous January 6, 2021.

Howell also wrote that Giuliani oversaw the creation and implementation of the “strategic plan” to promote doubt about the election results. Giuliani, Howell emphasized, encouraged states to actually override the results to declare Trump as the winner. In Giuliani’s plan, he also referenced Freeman and falsely suggested that she had been arrested related to the fraud allegations. Howell wrote, “[T]hese allegations at least plausibly suggest that Giuliani fabricated Freeman’s arrest and criminal record out of whole cloth.”

Giuliani argued that his comments about Freeman and Moss were “protected opinions,” that said that his words about the women were never those of “actual malice” standard required to successfully sue for defamation. He also tried to say that Freeman and Moss filed suit too late. Ultimately, Howell rejected all of Giuliani’s arguments, writing, “None of Giuliani’s arguments withstand scrutiny.”

Howell’s most “notable finding related to Giuliani’s coordination with the Trump campaign to promote the attacks on Moss and Freeman,” Politico notes, is that she said the women made a “plausible” claim that a civil conspiracy occurred. She wrote, “A reasonable jury could accordingly infer that Giuliani, Trump, and the ‘[k]ey [t]eam [m]embers” listed in the Strategic Plan, created a plan to sow doubt in the outcome of the 2020 election by launching a misinformation campaign, which included accusing Freeman, Moss, and others of participating in schemes of electoral fraud, and injuring plaintiffs in the process.”