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Giuliani and election fraud promoters didn’t vet claims, new court documents show

By Katelyn Polantz, Tierney Sneed and Holmes Lybrand, CNN

(CNN) — New court filings in a defamation lawsuit against Rudy Giuliani show the promoters of the election fraud narrative after Donald Trump lost the presidency failed to do basic vetting of the claims they were touting – and didn’t see such vetting as necessary.

For instance, in a December 2020 text cited in Tuesday’s filing, Trump lawyer Boris Epshteyn said that the president wanted simple examples of election fraud, which didn’t need to be proven.

“Urgent POTUS request need best examples of ‘election fraud’ that we’ve alleged that’s super easy to explain,” Epshteyn wrote, according to evidence attached to the filing. “Doesn’t necessarily have to be proven, but does need to be easy to understand. Is there any sort of ‘greatest hits’ clearinghouse that anyone has for best examples?”

A Trump spokesperson said Thursday that Boris Epshteyn, in sending the text, was passing along a message from a colleague.

The court filings indicate that a “Jason” had written the original message.

“(Original text from Jason, adding him),” Epshteyn said in a follow up text, according to the filings.

The documents were among a trove of evidence presented by two Georgia election workers suing Giuliani, a former Trump lawyer, for allegedly smearing them after the 2020 election. They are now asking a federal court to hold Giuliani liable for possibly losing crucial evidence after he pulled out of settlement talks.

Giuliani is feeling legal pressure related to his work for Trump to contest the election in 2020, after he sat for interviews with the special counsel’s criminal investigation in June and faces possible disbarment as an attorney. The evidence in the lawsuit from Ruby Freeman and Wandrea “Shaye” Moss of Georgia, who were at the center of Giuliani’s claims that vote-counting was fraudulent in the state, includes documents that could be pursued by criminal investigators as well.

Freeman and Moss’s attorneys allege Giuliani never took necessary steps to preserve his electronic data after the election. They say Giuliani testified in a deposition that he had used multiple cell phones, email addresses and other communications applications after the election, but hadn’t looked thoroughly through those records in the course of the lawsuit. Instead, he said his phones had been “wiped out” after the FBI seized them in April 2021 as part of a separate criminal investigation.

“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. Defendant Giuliani should know better. His conduct warrants severe sanctions,” Moss and Freeman’s attorneys wrote to the federal court on Tuesday night.

Giuliani already was fined $90,000 to reimburse the Georgia workers’ attorneys for a previous dispute they had over evidence gathering.

In recent days, Giuliani’s attorney approached Freeman and Moss’ lawyers to discuss an “agreement,” or at least a partial settlement, according to court filings. On Monday, however, Giuliani told them he couldn’t agree to “key principles” both sides had negotiated, keeping the lawsuit alive, according to the latest filing.

In a statement, Giuliani adviser Ted Goodman said the plaintiffs are attempting to “embarrass” the former mayor.

“The requests by these lawyers were deliberately overly burdensome, and sought information well beyond the scope of this case—including divorce records—in an effort to harass, intimidate and embarrass Mayor Rudy Giuliani,” Goodman said. “It’s part of a larger effort to smear and silence Mayor Giuliani for daring to ask questions, and for challenging the accepted narrative. They can’t take away the fact that Giuliani is objectively one of the most effective prosecutors in American history who took down the Mafia, cleaned up New York City and comforted the nation following 9/11.”

Giuliani in deposition: ‘I just repeated what I was told’

The plaintiffs’ lawyers have deposed key players like Bernie Kerik, who was tasked with helping Giuliani to collect supposed fraud evidence; Christina Bobb, the then-OANN correspondent who moonlighted as a legal adviser to the Trump team; and Giuliani himself.

In excerpts of a deposition Giuliani gave in the case, the former New York mayor says that he cannot recall running a criminal background check to firm up a claim he made that Freeman had an arrest record and a history of voter fraud.

“You didn’t think it was important to do that before you accused them of having a criminal background?” the plaintiffs’ lawyer asked Giuliani, referring to his clients.

“I just repeated what I was told,” Giuliani said.

In the litigation, his attorneys have acknowledged that she had no such criminal record, but Giuliani said in the March 1 deposition that he had only in recent days asked Kerik to run a criminal background check on her.

Giuliani was also questioned about a strategic plan – partially tweeted out by Kerik in late December 2020 – that laid out several claims of voter fraud across the country. According to evidence obtained by the plaintiffs described in the Giuliani deposition, Giuliani had noted that the communications plan needed “confirmation of arrest and evidence.”

Giuliani testified that he believed that, before the allegations were handed to the White House, they should be confirmed. But Giuliani could not say for sure whether the uncorroborated version of the claims was ultimately shared with the White House.

“This is so confusing, I don’t know what they told the White House,” Giuliani said in the deposition, adding that “I was not at the meeting, by design.”

In the deposition excerpts, Giuliani goes to great lengths to distance himself from the so-called “Strategic Communications Plan of the Giuliani Presidential Legal Defense Team.” Kerik, meanwhile, testified in his deposition for the lawsuit that Giuliani was aware of the strategic communications plan, which was focused on getting allegations of election fraud in front of state legislators. According to Kerik, the plan and allegations were continually discussed over six weeks.

The plaintiffs are also touting examples of when Giuliani, according to what they have collected, was made aware that some of the allegations he was making about supposed election fraud in Georgia were false.

In one email they obtained that was sent to his assistant in December 2020, a Fox News reporter asked Giuliani for comment on statements by an investigator in the Georgia secretary of state’s office that debunked the claims Trump allies were making about the Georgia election workers.

This story has been updated to add more context around the text from Epshteyn.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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