Washington — Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who served as an outside lawyer to former President Donald Trump, acknowledged Wednesday that he made “false” statements when he claimed two Georgia election workers engaged in voter fraud during the 2020 election. Giuliani, who’s being sued by the now former election workers for defamation, still argued he was engaging in constitutionally protected speech when he made the allegations.
Giuliani’s concession came in a two-page stipulation he submitted to the federal District Court in Washington, D.C., as part of the lawsuit brought by Ruby Freeman and Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, who are mother and daughter. In the filing, the former mayor admitted that for the purposes of the litigation, “to the extent the statements were statements of fact and otherwise actionable, such actionable factual statements were false.”
Giuliani also admitted that “he does not dispute for purposes of this litigation, that the statements carry meaning that is defamatory per se,” and no longer contests the “factual elements of liability” raised by Freeman and Moss. But he noted that the declaration has no effect on his argument that he made constitutionally protected statements or opinions, or that his conduct caused the pair any damage.
Giuliani’s concessions come as he faces the prospect of sanctions from the court regarding his discovery obligations in the dispute. Freeman and Moss asked U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell, who is presiding over the case, earlier this month to impose the sanctions, including awarding certain attorneys’ fees and costs, on Giuliani for failing to preserve electronic evidence from his email, messaging and social media accounts and electronic devices.
“Indeed, sanctions exist to remedy the precise situation here — a sophisticated party’s abuse of judicial process designed to avoid accountability, at enormous expense to the parties and this Court,” the pair’s lawyers wrote. “Defendant Giuliani should know better. His conduct warrants severe sanctions.”
Giuliani, though, asked to deny the request for sanctions, and noted in a separate filing that he “stipulates by concession any pertinent facts for which discovery from him would be needed.”
“Out of abundance of caution, and to avoid any potential controversy, Giuliani has agreed to stipulate to the factual aspects of liability as to plaintiffs claims, except damages, as such discovery or information would be solely in possession of the plaintiffs,” Joseph Sibley IV, Giuliani’s lawyer, told the court. “While Giuliani does not admit to Plaintiffs’ allegations, he — for purposes of this litigation only — does not contest the factual allegations.”
The signed declaration noted that Giuliani “is desirous to avoid unnecessary expenses in litigating what he believes to be unnecessary disputes.”
Ted Goodman, a political adviser to Giuliani, said in response to the filing that it was made “in order to move on to the portion of the case that will permit a motion to dismiss.”
“This is a legal issue, not a factual issue. Those out to smear the mayor are ignoring the fact that this stipulation is designed to get to the legal issues of the case,” he said in a statement.
Michael Gottlieb, a lawyer for Freeman and Moss, said Giuliani’s acknowledgements are a “major milestone in this fight for justice,” though certain issues, including damages, still must be decided by the court.
“Giuliani’s stipulation concedes what we have always known to be true — Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss honorably performed their civic duties in the 2020 presidential election in full compliance with the law; and the allegations of election fraud he and former-President Trump made against them have been false since day one,” Gottlieb said in a statement.
Freeman and Moss worked as election workers in Fulton County, Georgia, during the 2020 election. Freeman was a temporary employee tasked with verifying signatures on absentee ballots and preparing them for counting and processing, while Moss, who had worked for the Fulton County elections department since 2012, worked on the county’s absentee ballot operation.
The two were thrust into the public eye after they were shown in security camera footage from the State Farm Arena in Atlanta processing ballots. The Trump campaign and Giuliani shared an excerpt from the footage, and falsely claimed it showed Freeman and Moss engaging in a fake ballot scheme.
Though Georgia election officials refuted the inaccurate claims peddled by Trump’s allies, Moss and Freeman were subjected to violent and racist threats and harassment. The two women appeared before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol about how theirby the baseless theories spread about them.
Freeman and Moss filed their lawsuit against Giuliani in December 2021, alleging he made defamatory statements about them, which he repeated long after the 2020 election had been decided, and inflicted severe emotional distress on them.
Giuliani sought to dismiss the lawsuit, but Howell denied his request, writing that Giuliani “propagated and pushed” a false narrative that the electron was stolen.