An Obama-appointed federal judge has ruled that Rudy Giuliani is liable for defamation against two Georgia election workers.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell sided with two Georgia election workers who sued Giuliani in 2021 after he accused them of fraud.
Howell issued a default judgment against Giuliani, holding the former New York City mayor liable for defamation, civil conspiracy, and emotional distress.
The judgment was entered after Giuliani “refused to comply with his discovery obligations.”
Giuliani was accused of failing to preserve electronic records requested by the attorneys for election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss.
“Donning a cloak of victimization may play well on a public stage to certain audiences, but in a court of law this performance has served only to subvert the normal process of discovery in a straight-forward defamation case, with the concomitant necessity of repeated court intervention,” Howell wrote.
“Perhaps, he has made the calculation that his overall litigation risks are minimized by not complying with his discovery obligations in this case,” Howell continued.
“Whatever the reason, obligations are case specific, and withholding required discovery in this case has consequences.”
Howell determined that a trial will be held sometime between November 2023 and February 2024 to determine how much the election workers should be awarded in damages.
Giuliani will also be required to produce records relating to revenue generated by his podcast, Common Sense, and previously requested financial documents by September 20.
“[J]ust as taking shortcuts to win an election carries risks — even potential criminal liability — bypassing the discovery process carries serious sanctions,” Howell wrote.
Giuliani pointed to the FBI’s seizure of his electronic devices as a reason for his failure to preserve and produce the required information.
He noted it would cost him over $320,000 to pay a vendor to access the archived documents, according to court documents.
Ted Goodman, a political advisor to Giuliani, said that the ruling “is a prime example of the weaponization of our justice system, where the process is the punishment” in a statement provided to the Associated Press.
“This decision should be reversed, as Mayor Giuliani is wrongly accused of not preserving electronic evidence that was seized and held by the FBI,” Goodman said, according to AP.
Giuliani conceded the claims he made about Freeman and Moss were false in a July court filing.
However, he noted that does not impact his argument that the statements are “constitutionally protected.”
Giuliani is also one of 19 co-defendants indicted in Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ case against President Donald Trump for alleged efforts to interfere in the 2020 election in Georgia.
As Trump’s former lawyer, Giuliani is among the 45th president’s allies to also face political persecution from Democrat prosecutors.