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Politics

‘He has no right to offer defenseless civil servants up to a virtual mob’

“He has no right to offer defenseless civil servants up to a virtual mob in order to overturn an election,” Gottlieb said during his closing argument. “The cost that has [been] imposed on Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss, on all those he has deceived, and to the public confidence in our democracy are incalculable.”

Giuliani told reporters after court Wednesday that he intended to testify in his own defense, but on Thursday morning his attorney, Joseph Sibley, said the former prosecutor would not take the stand.

Sibley told jurors the decision was aimed at sparing Moss and Freeman — whose emotional testimony this week he described as genuine and credible — further trauma.

“These women have been through enough,” Sibley said, calling Giuliani “irresponsible” for stoking false claims against Moss and Freeman without conducting an investigation.

The four-day civil trial was unusual because the presiding federal judge, Beryl Howell, had already found Giuliani legally responsible for defaming Moss and Freeman and inflicting emotional harm upon them.

As a result of Giuliani’s failure to cooperate with pretrial discovery in the case, Howell also ruled that the former mayor was part of a civil conspiracy with Trump and his campaign to spread lies about the pair. That allowed Trump to feature prominently in the testimony and arguments even though the election workers never sued him or his campaign.

The judge’s rulings meant the jury was only tasked with determining the precise amount of damages Giuliani would be required to pay.

It’s unclear whether Moss and Freeman will ever receive any of the award the jury determines Giuliani must pay. Their lawyers alluded to that prospect in closing arguments. Howell’s rulings emphasized that Giuliani had shielded evidence of his net worth, and reports in recent months have described Giuliani’s dismal finances. He has at times turned to Trump’s PAC for assistance paying bills and raising funds for his legal defense. Sibley told jurors that a judgment of the kind Moss and Freeman are seeking would be the “civil equivalent of the death penalty.”

Despite the risk of a massive damage award, Giuliani appeared to damage his own case even as the trial was underway. During closing statements, Gottlieb played comments Giuliani made outside the courthouse Monday in which he reiterated his attacks on Moss and Freeman, insisting that his claims about election fraud by the pair were indeed true.

“Of course I don’t regret it. I told the truth,” Giuliani said to a bank of cameras. “They were engaged in changing votes. … Stay tuned.”

Those comments contradicted what his own lawyer had argued in court, a fact that Gottlieb eagerly displayed to the jury.

“Mr. Giuliani has shown over and over and over again that he will not take our clients’ names out of his mouth, that facts have not and will not stop him,” Gottlieb continued. “He’s telegraphing that he will do this again. Believe him.”

In an unusually concessionary closing, Sibley seemed to admit that some of Giuliani’s statements about the election workers and election fraud — including things he said this week — were out of touch with reality.

“Rudy Giuliani’s a good man,” Sibley said. “He hasn’t exactly helped himself with some of the things that have happened in the last few days.”

Sibley said his client’s intransigence was the product of bitterness about issues where contrarian views he shared about Hunter Biden’s laptop and other topics proved to be right.

“That’s one of the reasons he’s having such a hard time accepting the things about this case,” Sibley explained. “My client, he’s almost 80 years old.”

Sibley insisted Giuliani was a relatively minor player in the maelstrom of accusations and claims that slandered the election workers. Giuliani’s attorney pointed in particular to a conservative website facing a separate lawsuit from Moss and Freeman, the Gateway Pundit. That site published a security-camera video the Trump campaign posted on Twitter alongside the initial assertions linking the pair to fraud.

“The now-infamous video, [Giuliani] didn’t make that video. It was made by somebody else….He relied on others,” Sibley said, quickly adding, ”I’m not excusing the conduct. It’s not excused.”

Even though Howell had already ruled Giuliani liable in the case, she said Thursday that she was pleased that the trial served as a vehicle to show much of the evidence Giuliani ignored as he continued to accuse the workers of ballot tampering.

“I … view all that evidence being presented here as a public service,” said Howell, an appointee of President Barack Obama.

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