Election worker suing Rudy Giuliani testifies in defamation trial against him

Answering questions from her lawyer, John Langford, Moss said she began her job at the Fulton County Department of Registrations and Elections in 2012 as a temporary worker and described the joy she felt when she was hired for a permanent position, how she dropped to her knees and cried in the living room when she received the news.

“I worked really hard to learn everything I needed to do. It was like a golden ticket, like Willy Wonka. I was just so proud of myself that I was able to become a permanent employee,” Moss said. “I didn’t like my job — I loved my job. I loved my job so much.”

But the pride Moss had in her work diminished on Dec. 4, 2020, when she learned of the allegations Giuliani was making about her.

“Dec. 4, 2020, was the last day I was this bubbly, outgoing, happy Shaye. That was the day that everything changed,” she said.

Moss recalled being “dumbfounded” in a meeting with her boss that day after she was shown clips of her and her team working on Election Day that Giuliani had tweeted, falsely claiming they were proof they stole the election by counting fraudulent ballots from suitcases. “I was so confused and shocked I didn’t know what to think,” she said.

Langford introduced as evidence various Facebook messages Moss received that night, which she described as hateful, racist, nasty, violent and negative. Moss said she went to her hair salon and asked her stylist to make her unrecognizable, because she was “afraid for my life” and “literally felt like someone was going to come and attempt to hang me and there’s nothing that anyone would be able to do about it.”

Moss, who visibly fought back tears throughout her testimony, said she eventually left her job in April 2022. Giuliani’s allegations had caused tensions between her and her co-workers, and fears for her and her family’s personal safety weighed heavily on her mind at all times, she said.

“How can someone with so much power go public and talk about things that he obviously has no clue about? It’s obvious lies,” Moss said. “Nothing he said was true.”

Moss said Giuliani’s allegations had a significant effect on her son, who was 14 years old at the time of the election. Because he used Moss’ old phone, he constantly received hate messages and voicemails meant for her, she said. Langford played some of those messages for the jury. Moss said her son ultimately failed every class in the ninth grade because of the situation. 

“He didn’t deserve that,” she said. “I had to tell him racism is real and, you know, it comes out. And it was just, I can’t even describe it. I felt like the worst mom ever to allow him to have to hear this, have to experience this day after day after day.”

On cross-examination, Giuliani’s attorney Joseph Sibley asked Moss questions about her financial state, prompting her to answer that she still has not returned to work and is living off her “depleting” savings.

“I want to vindicate myself. I want to receive some type of justice for everything me and my family has been through,” Moss said. “It’s kind of difficult to do that when there are extremely powerful people still spreading lies about me.”

“I’m sure by hitting someone in the pockets, especially someone whose whole career is about their pockets, that will leave an impression about the next person who tries to spew lies about the next election worker,” she said.

Moss’ testimony was followed by videos of depositions of Giuliani ally Bernard Kerik and lawyers Christina Bobb and Jenna Ellis, who were asked about Giuliani’s reaching out to them to spread the claims about Freeman and Moss. Ellis invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination dozens of times in the video.

U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell this year found Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, former federal prosecutor and Donald Trump ally, to have defamed the two women, including by falsely claiming they were handing around what he alleged were USB drives “like they were vials of heroin or cocaine” while the vote count was being taken. In reality, they were exchanging a ginger mint.

In August, Howell found Giuliani “civilly liable on plaintiffs’ defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, civil conspiracy, and punitive damage claims” because of his “willful discovery misconduct” and his purposeful “shirking of his discovery obligations.”

Giuliani conceded in a court filing in July that he had made “false” statements about Freeman and Moss.

Moss testified Tuesday after jurors watched recorded videos of depositions of investigators Frank Brown and Frances Watson, who looked into election fraud claims for the Georgia secretary of state. Brown and Watson testified that they did not find evidence to support allegations of fraud.

Brown testified that his investigation found no evidence of Freeman’s having counted ballots multiple times or scanned fraudulent ballots. He noted that sometimes ballot-counting machines jam or fail to scan, requiring the operator to scan a ballot multiple times before it is counted, and that if anyone had actually counted ballots multiple times, it would have shown up on recounts.

Watson’s testimony largely mirrored Brown’s. She confirmed that observers were never kicked out of State Farm Arena in Atlanta, where the vote counting was taking place, and that fraudulent ballots were not brought in by suitcase and hidden under tables.

In opening statements Monday, one of Freeman and Moss’ attorneys, Michael Gottlieb, told jurors that Freeman and Moss received an “overwhelming” amount of “vile, racist, hateful comments” that were “fueled” by Giuliani and his co-conspirators — attacks that have made their names synonymous with crime and fraud for numerous Americans, he said.

In remarks to reporters outside the courthouse, Giuliani said he did not regret his lies and claimed he “told the truth” about Freeman and Moss, prompting them to ask the judge Monday night to block Giuliani from saying anything further that could violate court orders.

“When I testify, you’ll get the whole story, and it will be definitively clear what I said was true,” he said.

Giuliani’s comments contrasted those of with Sibley, who said in opening remarks that there is no question that Freeman and Moss were harmed and are “good people” but that the “punishment must match the crime.” He maintained that Giuliani never promoted racism or violence and that the millions of dollars Freeman and Moss are seeking would be the “civil equivalent of the death penalty.”

“It would be the end of Mr. Giuliani,” Sibley said.

Howell interrogated Sibley outside the jury’s presence Tuesday over Giuliani’s comments to reporters as he left the courthouse Monday. Giuliani’s statement alone could support a whole new defamation claim against him, she said, pointing out that Giuliani contradicted his own lawyer, who called Freeman and Moss “good people” who did not deserve what happened to them.

“Was Mr. Giuliani just playing for the cameras, for the media, yesterday?” Howell asked Sibley.

Sibley ultimately said he could not reconcile Giuliani’s statement with the approach he took in his opening statement and acknowledged that he cannot entirely control his client’s actions.

Howell later ordered that Giuliani could not testify that he told the truth about Freeman and Moss and that Giuliani and Sibley could not make any arguments claiming that paying damages would lead to financial ruin.

Giuliani was more circumspect as he left court Tuesday. “I’m not going to discuss the case right now, because it seems to get the judge annoyed,” he said.

Howell earlier found that Giuliani was liable for damages after he repeatedly defied court orders to turn over evidence in the case to the pair, including his financial information.

“Just as taking shortcuts to win an election carries risks — even potential criminal liability — bypassing the discovery process carries serious sanctions,” she ruled in August.

Freeman and Moss are seeking “a sum ranging from $15.5 million to $43 million, inclusive of special damages,” their lawyers wrote in a court filing. They will ask for compensatory damages for “the severe emotional distress” caused by the attacks on them, as well as punitive damages against Giuliani “as a punishment for his outrageous conduct and to deter him and others from engaging in that kind of conduct,” they wrote.

Giuliani will testify at the trial, as well, Sibley told jurors.