Federal judge wants Giuliani to clarify ‘incongruous’ and ‘puzzling’ court filing in Georgia defamation case

The judge presiding over the long-running case from two election workers wants to know what exactly he is admitting to

Alex Woodward
Sunday 06 August 2023 18:00 BST
Giuliani says he didn't admit he lied after conceding defamation claims

A federal judge has asked Rudy Giuliani to clarify his “seemingly incongruous and certainly puzzling caveats” in a recent filing in which he appears to admit he made false and defamatory statements about two Georgia election workers in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election.

But Mr Giuliani and his attorney have argued that the extremely carefully worded filing – which attempts to move the case along to avoid revealing more evidence – is not an admission.

He “concedes solely for the purposes of this litigation” that he made “false” statements about Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss that “carry meaning that is defamatory per se”, according to the filing on 26 July.

US District Judge Beryl Howell, however, wants to know “precisely” what he’s admitting to.

In their testimony to the House select committee investigating the events surrounding the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, Ms Freeman and Ms Moss revealed the depth of abuse they endured, forcing them from their jobs and making them feel unsafe after the former president and Mr Giuliani promoted debunked conspiracy theories involving them.

Those claims also are included in a federal indictment accusing Donald Trump of three criminal conspiracies and obstruction surrounding his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. One of the six unnamed co-conspirators in the indictment is believed to be Mr Giuliani.

During a committee hearing in Georgia’s House of Representatives on 10 December 2020, Mr Giuliani baselessly accused the women of “quite obviously surreptitiously passing around USB ports as if they are vials of heroin or cocaine” and suggested that they were criminals whose “places of work, their homes, should have been searched for evidence of ballots, for evidence of USB ports, for evidence of voter fraud,” according to the indictment. Prosecutors added that women “received numerous death threats” after the hearing.

They later filed a defamation suit against Mr Giuliani as well as right-wing outlet One American News Network, which settled with the women last year.

A report from Georgia’s State Election Board following a year-long investigation also dismissed bogus claims of election fraud and cleared the allegations against the women.

The fraud claims were “unsubstantiated and found to have no merit,” the investigation concluded.

A late-night federal court filing from Mr Giuliani’s attorneys on 25 July states that he “concedes solely for the purposes of this litigation” that he made false statements about Ms Freeman and Ms Moss, published those statements to third parties, and that they “carry meaning that is defamatory per se”.

The filing also concedes that his statements meet the “factual elements of liability” for their claims that amounted to “intentional infliction of emotional distress”.

In a video after the filing, he added: “I have not admitted that I lied, at any point. I haven’t.”

Judge Howell’s latest filing orders Mr Giuliani to try again without the legalese.

“Given the seemingly incongruous and certainly puzzling caveats contained in the Giuliani Stipulation, plaintiffs’ counsel recounts efforts to obtain clarification from defendant Giuliani’s counsel,” the order states.

He must submit another filing by 8 August that concedes “all factual allegations” of the case against him “as to his liability for plaintiffs’ defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and civil conspiracy claims, and his liability as to plaintiffs’ claim for punitive damages.”

The judge also notes that Mr Giuliani may concede that “entry of default judgment on liability is appropriate in this case”.

Mr Giuliani must appear in court on 15 August if he does not file another stipulation.

The Independent has requested comment from a spokesperson for Mr Giuliani.

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