Rudy Giuliani’s got 99 problems, and most of ’em entirely of his own making.
This morning, the Daily Beast’s Jose Pagliery flagged one in the form of a defamation suit filed in 2021 by Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, whom Giuliani and Trump falsely accused of feeding thousands of fraudulent ballots into vote tabulators in Atlanta on November 3, 2020. Moss testified publicly during the January 6 Committee hearings about the violent threats the pair were deluged with after the Trump campaign made them the center of false allegations about a stolen election in Georgia. And Trump said Freeman’s name 18 times on the infamous phone call when he demanded that Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger “find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have.”
According to this reporting, the plaintiffs, who are represented by attorneys from Wilkie Farr as well as the nonprofit Protect Democracy, are buckling in for a long fight to shake loose whatever dirt Giuliani’s got on Trump and his fellow Big Lie peddlers, as well as any loose change the former mayor has in his pockets after he gets through being sued by Dominion Voting Systems and it competitor Smartmatic.
The case was originally filed against One America News as well, after the network gave oxygen to Giuliani and Trump’s false claims. The right-wing television network settled the case in May of 2022, leaving just Rudy to explain to Chief Judge Beryl Howell why it was not defamatory for him to say that the plaintiffs had “a history of voter fraud participation” and were responsible for counting tens of thousands of fraudulent ballots. There was also the minor matter of the Giuliani Presidential Legal Defense Team, Strategic Communications Plan, targeting Moss and Freeman specifically, which Giuliani sought to disclaim despite the presence of his own name on it.
Giuliani moved to dismiss in June, alleging that his allegedly defamatory statements were either time-barred, protected expressions of opinion, or failed to mention the plaintiffs’ names, even as he played video of them. He disavowed responsibility for the campaign strategy memo and argued that Freeman was a limited purpose public figure, and thus obliged to allege actual malice.
On Halloween, Judge Howell published a blistering order denying the motion to dismiss which should have put the fear in the former mayor — although considering his current legal issues, perhaps this won’t rate space in his nightmares. The order kicked off what looks to be a bare knuckles discovery fight. And unlike the January 6 Committee, these plaintiffs aren’t about to get their case turned into an investigation of Hunter Biden’s nudes now that Speaker Kevin McCarthy is holding the gavel.
The Daily Beast reports that the plaintiffs are seeking to pierce attorney-client privilege under the crime-fraud exception in an attempt to get at Giuliani’s communications with Donald Trump during legal work for which he was never paid. And they already have some ammunition from that denial of Giuliani’s motion to dismiss, in which the court noted that “[t]he Strategic Plan and other conduct provide ample circumstantial evidence of a civil conspiracy between Giuliani and members of the Trump Campaign.”
“Mr. Giuliani invoked privilege during January 6 testimony with respect to certain topics we expect to broach during his… deposition,” Freeman and Moss’s lawyers wrote in a letter to defense counsel on January 13.
If indeed Judge Howell abrogates the privilege, Giuliani will join his colleague John Eastman in the dubious distinction of having a court find that it was more likely than not that he participated in crimes with his client Donald Trump. Which would hardly be the most humiliating thing to happen to a man who leaked hair dye on national television and hosted a press conference in the parking lot of a landscaper across from a porno shop — but it does have the potential to be a lot more costly.
Liz Dye lives in Baltimore where she writes about law and politics.