Judge Rips Giuliani in Preserving Lawsuit

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(Newser)

A federal judge on Monday declined to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed against former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani by two women who served as election workers in Georgia in November 2020. In the lawsuit filed last December, Ruby Freeman and Wandrea “Shaye” Moss accused Giuliani of defaming them by falsely stating that they had engaged in election fraud while counting ballots at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. The lawsuit says Giuliani repeatedly pushed debunked claims that the mother-and-daughter pair pulled out suitcases of illegal ballots and committed other acts of fraud to try to alter the outcome of the presidential election in Georgia, the AP reports.

In an opinion accompanying Monday’s order, US District Court Chief Judge Beryl Howell in Washington described the situation that followed the November 2020 election, when the vote totals in several key states were so close that the results were not immediately clear. “As election workers across the state worked long hours carefully ensuring the accuracy of the election, the Trump Campaign and its allies, including Giuliani, engaged in a media offensive that at best questioned, and at worse condemned, their work,” Howell wrote. Moss had worked for the Fulton County elections department since 2012 and supervised the absentee ballot operation during the 2020 election. Freeman, her mother, was a temporary worker, verifying signatures on absentee ballots and preparing them to be counted and processed.

As the false allegations about them circulated online, the two women said, they suffered intense harassment, both in person and online. Moss detailed her experiences in emotional testimony before the US House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. The committee also played video testimony from Freeman during the hearing in June. In a court filing in June, Giuliani argued the lawsuit should be dismissed because its claims are inadequately pleaded and are barred by First Amendment protections for free speech. Howell rejected those arguments, allowing the lawsuit to move forward. “Despite the repeated debunking of the Trump Campaign’s claims of voter fraud in the election in Georgia by state officials and private organizations, Giuliani persisted in pushing those very claims—and began taking direct aim at plaintiffs in the process,” Howell wrote.

(Read more Rudy Giuliani stories.)

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