Rudy Giuliani has been ordered to pay nearly $150 million in damages to former Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Shay Moss for defamation following the 2020 presidential election.
But as with all major jury awards, the question is whether Freeman and Moss will see the money.
Giuliani, a former New York mayor and former President Donald Trump’s one-time lawyer, has vowed to appeal the jury’s decision. During the trial, he and his attorneys repeatedly said they already didn’t have the money to pay off his various debts, but it’s unclear how much the former New York mayor actually has.
Attorneys for Freeman and Moss told the court they tried to determine Giuliani’s net worth, but because he did not respond to several subpoenas in the case, they were unable to determine a figure.
A spokeswoman for Giuliani declined to comment Friday on his current financial situation.
Attorney John Langford told CNN’s Erin Burnett on Friday evening’s “Outfront” that Moss and Freeman plan to “go through every penny that Mr. Giuliani has and pay and satisfy this judgment.” Will (they) get the money he owes Ruby and Shay.
They plan to move quickly to other jurisdictions where Giuliani has assets to seek final judgment, Langford said.
Ryan Goodman, a former special counsel at the Department of Defense, told Burnett that election workers would collect only “a fraction” of the amount provided. “There’s no way they’re going to collect (the total judgment) and I don’t think they’re going to collect half the amount or even a quarter of the amount. But I think they’re going to collect millions. It depends on what his assets are,” he said.
Giuliani was ordered to pay $16,171,000 to Freeman for defamation, $16,998,000 to Moss for defamation, $20 million to each woman for emotional distress and a total of $75 million in punitive damages. Even Judge Beryl Howell was shocked by the figure when the verdict was read.
Giuliani has already been fined $200,000 for some of Freeman and Moss’ attorneys’ fees, which he has not paid. He owes more than $1 million to defense attorneys who helped him on other matters, prompting him to sue this year, and nearly $60,000 in unpaid phone bills over the years.
Still, he’s had help at times — including from Trump — to try to raise funds to pay off some of his debts, and was able to take a private plane to his arrest this summer in Georgia on felony charges related to 2020 election interference.
A few months ago, Giuliani listed his three-bedroom Manhattan apartment for sale. It’s still on the market for $6.1 million, according to public real estate listings.
It’s unclear whether Giuliani could file for bankruptcy. That issue, according to people familiar with the case, will have to be decided by the courts at a later date, and even if he goes into bankruptcy, he could still be in trouble with the jury awarding Moss and Freeman.
In a different high-profile defamation case against far-right figure Alex Jones brought by the families of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the courts had to look at this kind of issue.
Jones filed for bankruptcy after being ordered to pay nearly $1.5 billion to the families of the shooting victims, but a judge ruled this fall that he cannot use bankruptcy to avoid the money.
Even if Giuliani did declare bankruptcy, Goodman told Burnett that “in all likelihood the judgment is independent” and that the former mayor “should pay them in any event.”
“He’s in trouble, it’s just a question of how many properties he has, does he have a multi-million dollar apartment here and there? Then, it’s about them, maybe other lenders,” he said.
Freeman told reporters outside federal court in Washington that his life had changed forever.
“I want people to understand this: money doesn’t solve all my problems,” he said. “I can’t go back to the house I called home. I always have to be careful where I go and who I choose to share my name with. I miss my home. I miss my neighbors and I miss my name.
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Ken Friedman, a former spokesman for Giuliani during the 1993 mayoral campaign, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead” that Giuliani could not pay the full judgment, “and it sends a message and sets an example for other defamation lawsuits.”
“Even if they garnish his wages, we all know he can’t afford it, but that’s fair to the plaintiffs, of course,” Friedman said.
Giuliani, for his part, said he plans to appeal.
“The absurdity of the number underscores the absurdity of the entire operation,” he told reporters, as he ordered the payment.
However he stood by his defamatory comments against Moss and Freeman, again providing no evidence for his claims.
“I have no doubt that my comments were made, they were supported, and they are supported today,” Giuliani said.