Rudy Giuliani, a longstanding Trump associate, was ordered to pay two women almost $148 million in a defamation case related to his conduct in 2020. The judge found Giuliani liable for defaming Georgia poll workers Ruby Freeman and her daughter Wandrea "Shaye" Moss.
Speaking about the outcome of the case, Moss called the preceding few years "devastating." The four-day punishment phase of Guiliani's trial ended with the staggering ruling. Friday, the eight-person jury ordered $20 million defamation payments to each victim, as the BBC reported.
In addition, the jury awarded each almost $16 million for emotional suffering. Another $75 million in punitive damages was shared between them. Giuliani, Trump's former lawyer, was originally sued for a sum between $15 million and $43 million.
Giuliani told reporters outside the court, "I don't regret a damn thing." Some described the former New York mayor as "patient zero" of the misinformation at issue, as Freeman and Moss' lawyer Michael Gottlieb, argued during closing statements on Thursday.
He said the jurors "experienced a sliver of the unspeakable horror that [Freeman and Moss] suffered" during three days of testimony. He claimed a harsh financial penalty was needed to "send a message" to Giuliani and "any other powerful figure with a platform".
Giuliani was scheduled to testify in his own defense on Thursday, but that appearance was canceled. "Honestly, I didn't believe it would do any good," Giuliani said after the Friday judgment, vowing to appeal the "absurd" penalty.
His lawyers advised the jurors to weigh the penalty carefully. They denied that the former mayor of New York was as malevolent as lawyers for the two women claimed, even if he was guilty of propagating misinformation following the 2020 presidential election.
Freeman testified in Washington D.C. on Wednesday that she fled her home after a throng of Trump supporters gathered outside and the FBI warned her that she should exercise caution. After sharing a video of the women, Giuliani claimed ballot manipulation on the part of the plaintiffs.
"I took it as though they were going to hang me with their ropes on my street," Freeman said. "I was afraid. I did not know if they would kill me."
Freeman said Giuliani isolated her and that friends and acquaintances were terrified to be linked to her, forcing her to live in solitude out of fear of public recognition.
On Friday, the women told reporters that other public people who lied about them may face more lawsuits.
"They must be accountable too," Freeman remarked. "Money won't solve all my problems."