Rudy Giuliani has been ordered to pay nearly $150 million in damages to former Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, whom he defamed following the 2020 presidential election.
But as with all major jury awards, the question is whether Freeman and Moss will see any of that money.
Giuliani, the former New York mayor and onetime attorney to former President Donald Trump, has vowed to appeal the jury’s verdict. During the trial, he and his attorneys repeatedly said that he already doesn’t have funds to cover his various debts, but it’s unclear how much the former New York mayor actually has.
Attorneys for Freeman and Moss said in court they had tried to find out Giuliani’s net worth, but because he hadn’t responded to many of their subpoenas in the lawsuit, they couldn’t determine a figure.
A spokesman for Giuliani declined to comment Friday on his current financial state.
Attorney John Langford told CNN’s Erin Burnett on “OutFront” Friday evening that they plan to ensure that Moss and Freeman “see every bit of money that Mr. Giuliani has available to him, to pay and satisfy this judgment” and are “looking at every option (they) have to obtain the money that he owes Ruby and Shaye.”
They plan, Langford said, to move quickly toward getting a final judgment entered in order to go to other jurisdictions where Giuliani has assets.
Ryan Goodman, a former special counsel at the Department of Defense, told Burnett that it’s likely the election workers will collect only “a fraction” of the awarded amount. “There is no way they’ll collect (the total judgment), and I don’t think they’ll collect half the amount or a quarter of the amount, just a fraction. But I do think maybe they will 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 $75 million total in punitive damages. When the verdict was read, even Judge Beryl Howell appeared taken aback by the figure.
Giuliani had already been fined more than $200,000 for some of Freeman and Moss’ attorneys’ fees, which he hasn’t paid. He also owed more than $1 million to defense attorneys who’ve helped him on other matters, prompting them to sue him this year, and hadn’t paid nearly $60,000 for years-old phone bills.
Yet at times he’s had help – including from Trump – to try to fundraise to offset some of his debts, and he was able to take a private plane to his arrest on criminal charges related to 2020 election interference in Georgia this summer.
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 not clear whether Giuliani would be able to declare bankruptcy to shield himself from any sum of damages in the lawsuit. That issue, according to people familiar with the case, may have to be decided by the courts at a later time, and it’s possible he could still be on the hook for what the jury awards Moss and Freeman, even if he goes into bankruptcy.
In a different high-profile defamation case against far-right personality Alex Jones brought by the families of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims, the courts have had to look at this type of issue.
Jones filed for bankruptcy after he was ordered to pay nearly $1.5 billion to the shooting victims’ families, but a judge decided this fall he couldn’t use bankruptcy to avoid owing the money.
Even if Giuliani were to declare bankruptcy, Goodman told Burnett that “the judgment in all likelihood is independent” and the former mayor “will have to pay them in any case.”
“He’s in trouble and it’s only a question of how many assets he has, does he have a multimillion-dollar apartment here and there? And then, it’s about them versus maybe other creditors,” he said.
Freeman told reporters outside the federal courthouse in Washington that her life is forever changed.
“I want people to understand this: Money will never solve all of my problems,” she said. “I can never move back into the house that I called home. I will always have to be careful about 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 Frydman, a former spokesman for Giuliani during his 1993 mayoral campaign, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead” that while it’s not likely Giuliani will be able to pay the entire judgment, “it sends a message and sets a precedent for the other defamation cases.”
“We all know he’s not going to be able to afford that even if they garnish his wages, but it’s vindication for the plaintiffs, certainly,” Frydman said.
Giuliani, for his part, said he plans to appeal.
“The absurdity of the number underscores the absurdity of the entire proceedings,” he told reporters, referring to the money he was ordered to pay.
Yet he stood by his defamatory comments against Moss and Freeman, again offering no proof of his claims.
“I have no doubt that my comments were made and they were supportable and they are supportable today,” Giuliani said.