Rudy Giuliani Has a Whole Lot of Excuses in Election Worker Defamation Suit

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(Bloomberg) -- Rudy Giuliani and his lawyer appeared before a judge Tuesday to explain last-minute canceled depositions and delays turning over evidence in a defamation case brought by two Georgia election workers against former President Donald Trump’s longtime adviser.

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Asked about the canceled January deposition, Giuliani said he had a bad bout of flu that left him with a partially collapsed lung, bristling at the plaintiffs’ suggestions that it wasn’t serious because he traveled shortly after.

As for the next date in February, Giuliani said he took a “humanitarian” trip to East Palestine, Ohio, at the mayor’s request following a train derailment. He told the judge he regularly received such requests as New York City’s former mayor during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Trump’s appearance in the community wasn’t relevant to his decision to go, he said.

US District Judge Beryl Howell had ordered Giuliani to appear for a video hearing along with his lawyer Joseph Sibley to respond to complaints raised by lawyers in a defamation lawsuit brought more than a year ago by election workers Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Wandrea “Shaye” Moss. The two women became the targets of a false voter-fraud conspiracy theory promoted by Trump, Giuliani and others, which led to threats and harassment, according to congressional testimony in June.

A May deadline is fast approaching to produce evidence and secure testimony in the case.

The plaintiffs notified Howell earlier this week that they believed Giuliani should cover the costs of the canceled depositions “and any other monetary sanctions” she found “appropriate.” Howell said it was up to the plaintiffs’ lawyers to decide if they still wanted to pursue that after hearing Giuliani’s explanations in court.

Sibley’s statement to Howell that they’d turned over “many” documents to the plaintiffs — but not that they’d fully complied with all requests — “leaves me scratching my head,” the judge said.

Pressed for details, Sibley said he wasn’t clear about which records they had searched. He didn’t think they’d pulled data from social media accounts that Giuliani used to send messages, and he wasn’t sure if records extracted from Giuliani’s electronic devices pursuant to a warrant in an unrelated Justice Department investigation included texts. He said he also wasn’t sure if they’d searched all devices that Giuliani had used besides those seized by federal investigators.

Howell expressed skepticism that Sibley would believe the records they’d produced so far represented a reasonable number given the scope of the case.

Sibley said he wasn’t surprised by the relatively low number because keyword searches hadn’t yielded a lot of hits and Giuliani didn’t put a lot in writing — he wasn’t a big texter, for instance, Sibley said. The plaintiffs said in a recent court filing that Giuliani discussed texting and using other messaging apps during his March 1 deposition.

Howell set deadlines for Giuliani and Sibley to resolve the plaintiffs’ requests for records and other information. If the plaintiffs still weren’t satisfied, she said, they could come back to court and ask her to formally compel Giuliani to comply.

Giuliani offered to provide clarity during the hearing, at one point disregarding Howell’s suggestion that he might want to consult with his lawyer first. On the subject of a December 2020 strategic planning document that identified Freeman and Moss by name, Giuliani told the judge that he wasn’t involved in preparing it, disagreed with the substance, and was “surprised to this day” that his name was on it.

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