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Rudy Giuliani is ordered to pay over $148 million to 2 Georgia election workers for defamation

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Rudy Giuliani at 60 Centre Street in Manhattan on Sept. 8, 2022.
Theodore Parisienne | Tribune News Service | Getty Images

A federal jury on Friday ordered Rudy Giuliani to pay over $148 million to two Georgia election workers for falsely claiming they committed ballot fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

The jaw-dropping figure includes $75 million in punitive damages, along with awards of $20 million to each of the two election workers for emotional distress and more than $16 million each for defamation.

Giuliani was in court as the verdict was read aloud by a federal judge. After the court adjourned, the plaintiffs joyously embraced while Giuliani, who stood alone, packed a bag without looking up, NBC News reported.

Outside the courthouse, Giuliani called the damages figure “absurd” and vowed to appeal.

The defamation damage award is the latest in a series of legal blows to Giuliani related to his service as the top campaign lawyer for Donald Trump in efforts to reverse the former Republican president’s loss in that election.

Giuliani, Trump, and 17 other defendants were indicted this summer on state criminal court charges in Georgia in connection with their attempts to undo Trump’s defeat.

The civil verdict by the jury Friday came after Giuliani’s lawyer said the former mayor would not testify in the case in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., reversing his supposed plans to do so.

The plaintiffs in the case, Ruby Freeman and Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, who are mother and daughter, sued Giuliani in 2021 for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and civil conspiracy.

Courtroom sketch of Ruby Freeman and Wandrea “Shaye” Moss during Rudy Giuliani’s defamation trial, Dec. 14, 2023.
Artist: Bill Hennessy

Judge Beryl Howell in August issued a default judgment against Giuliani in the women’s favor because Giuliani had repeatedly failed to comply with orders requiring him to turn over evidence to their attorneys. Giuliani previously had conceded that for the purposes of the lawsuit he had made false statements about the women that were defamatory.

Howell’s ruling meant that the trial would only determine how much money the former New York City mayor would pay the women in damages.

On Tuesday, a social media expert had testified that it would cost the women between $17 million and nearly $48 million to fix the damage to their reputations as a result of the lies told about them by Giuliani and others.

Giuliani had said at a Georgia Senate hearing after the 2020 election that Freeman and Moss at a ballot-counting location had passed each other USB flash drives like “vials of heroin or cocaine” as part of a scheme to defraud Trump of an election win. Moss later testified to Congress that she and her mother were passing candy.

Freeman testified during the trial that after Giuliani made his claims about her and her daughter, they received nonstop threats, and that she left her home for two months at the beginning of 2021 at the recommendation of the FBI.

“We are coming for you and your family!” one email sent to Freeman said, according to evidence shown to jurors. “Ms. Ruby, safest place for you right now is in prison. Or you will swing from the trees.”

Freeman wept on the witness stand, saying, “It’s so scary every time I go somewhere if I have to use my name.”

Joseph Sibley, Giuliani’s attorney in the case, did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

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