Rudy Giuliani avoids testifying in defamation case – BBC News

  • By Bernd Debusmann Jr & Brandon Drenon
  • BBC News, Washington

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

Outside of court, Rudy Giuliani has continued to repeat baseless clams about Ruby Freeman and her daughter Wandrea Moss

Rudy Giuliani has abandoned plans to testify in his own defence as his multi-million defamation case enters its final stage.

Ex-poll worker Ruby Freeman, 64, and her daughter Wandrea “Shaye” Moss are suing Mr Giuliani over his false claims they played a role in election fraud.

The pair testified that they had to flee and feared for their lives.

Mr Giuliani has already been found liable, leaving only the penalties in question.

Ms Freeman and Ms Moss are seeking between $15m and $43m (£11.9m to £34m) in damages, which Mr Giuliani – Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer – claims he cannot afford. Mr Giuliani’s lawyer said the damages they are seeking are the “civil equivalent of the death penalty”.

The former mayor of New York City was due to testify in court on Thursday, but his lawyers said during an early morning press conference that he was no longer taking the stand. They later said in court the decision was made because “we feel like these women have been through enough”.

In courtroom testimony in Washington DC on Wednesday, Ms Freeman recounted having to flee after a group of Trump supporters gathered at her home and the FBI told her she was in danger.

The incident happened after Mr Giuliani shared a video of them, which he falsely alleged showed evidence of ballot tampering.

Video caption,

Shaye Moss and her mother testified before Congress in June 2022

“I took it as though they were going to hang me with their ropes on my street,” Ms Freeman said. “I was scared. I didn’t know if they were coming to kill me.”

Mr Giuliani has previously acknowledged in a court filing that he made defamatory statements about the pair.

Ms Freeman said that she was left isolated by Mr Giuliani’s actions. Friends and acquaintances became afraid to be linked to her, and she has been forced to live a life of seclusion because of lingering fears she will be recognised publicly.

“It’s so scary, any time I go somewhere, if I have to use my name,” she said. “Now I don’t have a name, really.”

Lawyers for Ms Freeman and her daughter rested their case on Wednesday.

Mr Giuliani played a significant part in Mr Trump’s attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. He amplified the former president’s claims that the election was fraudulent.

Northwestern University Professor Ashley Humphreys, a trial witness and sociologist who specialises in consumer behaviour, testified on Wednesday that Mr Giuliani’s defamatory statements were seen up to 56 million times.

The judge in Ms Freeman’s case has forbidden Mr Giuliani from arguing the debunked election fraud claims in court.

Outside the court, however, he has continued to claim that the baseless allegations he said about Ms Moss and Ms Freeman were true.

On Monday, he said he didn’t regret his earlier statements and promised the public would “get the whole story” once he testified, which will no longer happen.

Michael Gottlieb, attorney for Ms Freeman and Ms Moss, said Mr Giuliani “has shown over and over again he will not take our client’s names out of his mouth”.

He said: “Facts will not stop him. He says he isn’t sorry and he’s telegraphing he will do this again. Believe him.”

Mr Gottlieb told the court Mr Giuliani’s purpose was to “overturn an election and have these statements rocket around the world millions and millions of times”.

Mr Giuliani’s attorney argued that right-wing outlet Gateway Pundit was the first to publish the video of the pair – not Mr Giuliani.

Before closing arguments began, Mr Giuliani’s lawyers requested a motion to dismiss some of the evidence, as well as some of his defamatory statements and tweets.

The judge rejected the measure, saying that “these statements made by Giuliani again and again and again were totally false… these same lies [told] up to the very first day of trial”.

Mr Giuliani is facing separate charges in Georgia stemming from his part in an alleged conspiracy to overturn the election results alongside Mr Trump and others. He has pleaded not guilty.

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