Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City, could face significant financial consequences if he fails in an appeal of a defamation lawsuit in which he was ordered to pay $148 million to two Atlanta election workers whom he wrongly accused of trying to steal the 2020 election for Joe Biden.
The bombshell verdict delivered a major setback to the 79-year-old former mayor of New York, representing a form of validation for election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss. They claimed that Giuliani's false accusations led to a barrage of threats that negatively impacted their lives. The verdict now has landed Giuliani and his finances in a major crisis.
Almost Death Penalty
The mother-daughter duo said that Giuliani's false claims, accusing them of engaging in ballot fraud to manipulate the election against Trump, instilled fear in them. They claimed that the lies made them reluctant to leave their homes and hindered their ability to secure employment.
Giuliani's lawyer argued in the Washington, DC courtroom on Thursday that the initial request for $43 million in damages from Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Andrea "Shaye" Moss, would be the "civil equivalent of the death penalty."
"If you award them what they are asking for, it will be the end of Mr. Giuliani," attorney Joe Sibley said of his client, according to multiple reports.
Following two days of deliberations, a jury in Washington, DC, ultimately granted the pair $75 million in punitive damages and an additional $20 million each for emotional distress.
Moss received just under $17 million for defamation, and Freeman was awarded nearly $16.2 million in the case.
Giuliani was present in court as the verdict was read out by a federal judge. Following the court's adjournment, the plaintiffs celebrated with embraces. In contrast, Giuliani, who stood alone, packed a bag without looking up, as reported by NBC News.
Currently grappling with various million-dollar lawsuits accusing him of failing to make payments to attorneys and accountants, "America's mayor" Giuliani has pledged to appeal the recent decision. He highlights the perceived absurdity of the awarded amount to the plaintiffs.
"Do I have $43 million? No. Am I going to fight this case until I die? Yeah," Giuliani told The New York Post. "I'd rather die poor with my principles than cave in to a destruction of my country that I love so much."
Giuliani also claimed that the lawsuit was "part of the Biden offensive that started some time ago to see what they can do about intimidating Trump lawyers, Trump supporters." He suggested that Mike Gottlieb, one of the attorneys representing Freeman and Moss, had a connection with Hunter Biden, describing Gottlieb as a "good friend" of Hunter Biden.
Gottlieb, who previously served as an associate White House counsel during President Barack Obama's administration, worked at the law firm Boies Schiller Flexner concurrently with Hunter Biden. Email exchanges on Hunter Biden's abandoned laptop include discussions about a potential deal with a Romanian oligarch, in which Gottlieb is mentioned.
Asked about a recent $550,000 tax lien reported by the New York Times that the IRS placed on his Palm Beach, Fla., condominium, Giuliani said: "I don't trust anything that the Biden government does, this is not the United States government."
However, the only way left for Giuliani now is to appeal the verdict and win it.
The defamation damage award is the most recent in a series of legal setbacks for Giuliani, connected to his role as the lead campaign lawyer for Donald Trump in attempts to overturn the former Republican president's loss in the election.
In August, US District Judge Beryl Howell found Giuliani liable by default for defamation. The ruling was related to Giuliani's claims that the mother-daughter duo had processed fraudulent ballots in Fulton County during the 2020 presidential election.
"How you can find liability based on discovery is beyond me when they had my deposition," Giuliani also told The Post. "They had more documents about me than I have."
"The discovery went on for about a year and a half and included thousands and thousands and thousands of documents, including I sat for a deposition and did not take the Fifth Amendment."
In the same month, Giuliani listed his longstanding Manhattan co-op for $6.5 million. The FBI had raided this property in 2021, seizing his electronic devices, possibly as part of an investigation into his failure to register as a foreign agent for Ukraine in the run-up to the 2020 election.
In her decision, Howell remarked that Giuliani had offered "only lip service" to his legal obligations and to fulfilling evidence requests from the lawyers representing the Georgia election workers regarding his private communications and financial matters.