The former Trump lawyer could have avoided a massive defamation verdict by presenting his “definitively clear” evidence of election fraud.
In a recent CNN poll, 71 percent of Republicans said Joe Biden “did not legitimately win enough votes to win the presidency,” and 41 percent said there was “solid evidence” to support that conclusion. Last Friday, a federal jury in Washington, D.C., gave those Republicans 148 million reasons to think again.
Former Trump campaign lawyer Rudy Giuliani could have avoided that ruinous defamation verdict if he had “solid evidence” to support his assertion that two Georgia election workers helped Biden steal the presidency. But as usual, Giuliani claimed to have proof of massive election fraud that he inexplicably could not share. Giuliani never puts up, but he never shuts up either.
Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, who are mother and daughter, sued Giuliani in December 2021 because he had repeatedly accused them of introducing and counting thousands of phony absentee ballots at Atlanta’s State Farm Arena after the 2020 election. That story had been thoroughly debunked by Georgia election officials, including Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican who supported Donald Trump’s reelection.
A March 2023 report from Raffensperger’s office reiterated that “all allegations made against Freeman and Moss were unsubstantiated and found to have no merit.” But Giuliani seemed completely unfazed by the facts until last July, when he submitted a “nolo contendre stipulation” in an attempt to resolve the lawsuit.
Giuliani conceded that his claims about Freeman and Moss were “defamatory per se.” And “to the extent the statements were statements of fact and other wise actionable,” he said, “such actionable factual statements were false.”
The following month, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell ruled that, because Giuliani had willfully failed to meet his discovery obligations, he was liable for defamation by default. The jury’s task therefore was limited to assessing damages.
During the trial, Giuliani reverted to form. Although his own lawyer said he was “not excusing” Giuliani’s “irresponsible” promotion of the baseless allegations against Freeman and Moss, the defendant himself was unrepentant.
“When I testify,” Giuliani said outside the courthouse four days before the verdict, “you’ll get the whole story, and it will be definitively clear what I said was true.” He insisted that “everything I said about them is true.” But Giuliani never testified.
After the verdict, Giuliani told reporters he had “no doubt” his defamatory statements about the plaintiffs “were supportable and are supportable today.” Unfortunately, he said, “I just did not have an opportunity to present the evidence.”
Giuliani has been singing the same tune since November 2020, when he began insisting that Trump had been denied his rightful victory through a combination of deliberately corrupted voting machines and massive dumps of fake Biden ballots like the one that supposedly happened in Atlanta. That conspiracy, he said, was “easily provable,” although he was not yet at liberty to divulge all of the evidence.
Somehow the time for presenting that secret proof never arrived. As happened last week, Giuliani repeatedly made claims that he was not prepared to back up in court.
At the Washington, D.C., rally that preceded the Capitol riot by Trump supporters on January 6, 2021, Giuliani said he was about to present “conclusive proof” of machine-facilitated election fraud in Georgia. “I’m willing to stake my reputation,” he said. “If we’re wrong, we will be made fools of.” The very next day, the Trump campaign abandoned the lawsuits that Giuliani had just insisted would vindicate his claims.
The defamation lawsuits that Giuliani faced as a result of those claims gave him yet another chance to substantiate his “easily provable” allegations. Although he passed up that opportunity last week, he still faces lawsuits by Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic, two companies he said had helped rig the election.
Giuliani’s televised allegations against Dominion figured prominently in the defamation case that Fox News settled last April by agreeing to pay the company $787.5 million. But surely Giuliani, as the keeper of “conclusive proof,” can do better.
© Copyright 2023 by Creators Syndicate Inc.
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