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Rudy Giuliani made it ‘dangerous’ for Georgia election workers, attorney says in closing arguments in defamation case

By Devan Cole, Holmes Lybrand and Katelyn Polantz, CNN

(CNN) — Rudy Giuliani didn’t see two former Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss as “human beings” when he spread conspiracy theories about them after the 2020 election, their attorney told a Washington, DC, jury Thursday during closing arguments in the defamation damages trial.

“He thought they were ordinary and expendable. He didn’t see them as human beings,” the attorney, Mike Gottlieb, told the eight-person jury.

“It’s dangerous for them to be Ruby Freeman or Shaye Moss because of Giuliani and his co-conspirators,” Gottlieb said.

Freeman and Moss are seeking $24 million apiece in reputational damages, as well as punitive and emotional damages in the case.

Gottlieb also said that there was a time in Giuliani’s life when, as mayor of New York, he understood and appreciated that civil servants were decent people.

“He has no right to offer defenseless civil servants over to a digital mob,” Gottlieb said.

Giuliani spent nearly the entirety of Gottlieb’s closing argument apparently not paying attention. Instead, for more than an hour he was intently reading news stories on a touch-screen laptop he had propped on the defense table in front of him, squinting and highlighting large portions of what he was reading with a stylus.

Closing arguments began Thursday morning after Giuliani opted not to testify or put on any case in his defense.

The case has refocused attention on the human impact of disinformation spread by Trump and his allies after the 2020 election as the former president awaits his own criminal trial in the same courthouse.

Giuliani has already been found liable for defamation and owes Freeman and Moss  over $230,000 after failing to respond to parts of their lawsuit.

‘Patient deep-pockets’

During his own closing arguments, Joseph Sibley, Giuliani’s attorney, claimed Freeman and Moss saw his client as having “deep pockets.”

“I’m not saying Giuliani wasn’t responsible for some harm,” Sibley said, referring to a deluge of harassing and threatening messages that the women received after Giuliani began spreading lies about them.

But, Sibley added, the plaintiffs saw his client as “patient deep-pockets,” a reference to Freeman and Moss’ attorney saying in his own closing arguments that Giuliani was “patient zero for the harm” caused to the two women.

“I’m trying to show you that just because these things happened, and they certainly did happen, that doesn’t mean” Giuliani is responsible for it all, Sibley said.

Sibley also claimed that the decision for Giuliani to not testify in his defense was made out of respect for the two plaintiffs.

“We feel like these women have been through enough,” he told the jury Thursday.

During his closing arguments, Sibley invoked Giuliani’s legacy as a federal prosecutor in New York and his time as mayor of the city in an attempt to paint his client as a good man who shouldn’t be subjected to the judgment sought by Freeman and Moss. He asked the jury to send a message to America that it can come together with compassion, noting the division caused by things like the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.

“Rudy Giuliani is a good man. I know some of you may not think that,” he said, as Giuliani looked up and shook his head.

“I’m asking you to be reasonable,” Sibley said. “That’s all I’m asking you.”

Two days of emotional testimony

In emotional testimony Wednesday, Freeman described the flood of threats she received after Giuliani disseminated lies about her and her daughter. At one point, her attorney had her review for the jury some of the racist messages she received following the 2020 election.

“Hope they lock you up and throw away the key, you disgusting B*tch traitor,” one of the messages read.

“I received so many on my phone that at one time my phone crashed and just died,” Freeman testified.

She appeared visibly shaken as the various messages were shown. She read aloud from some of them, at times appearing to hold back tears.

“Pack your s–t. They are coming for you. I’m not far behind. I’m coming for you also. Trash will be taken to the street in bags,” another read.

“I took it as though they were going to cut me up and put me into trash bags and take it out to my street,” Freeman said.

A day earlier, Moss similarly walked the jury through how her life has changed after Giuliani began attacking the two women.

“It feels like I’m trapped under someone else’s boot of power,” she testified Tuesday. “I can’t do anything, I feel helpless, and the only thing that’s surrounding me is the lies.”

While Giuliani conceded in July that he did make defamatory statements about Moss and Freeman, he attempted to argue that his statements did not cause any damage to the two women and that his comments about voter fraud in Georgia in the 2020 election were protected speech.

During opening statements on Monday, his attorney Joseph Sibley acknowledged that some harm was done to Freeman and Moss and that the jury would be awarding damages against his client. But he argued that the amount sought by the plaintiffs far exceeded what Giuliani should have to pay them as a result of his conduct.

Sibley said at one point that what the plaintiffs are asking for in damages is “the civil equivalent of the death penalty.”

“They’re trying to end Mr. Giuliani,” he told the jury.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

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