In a late-night filing made on Tuesday, Rudy Giuliani, the former personal lawyer for former President Donald Trump, appeared to admit that conspiracy theories he peddled about two Georgia election workers in the aftermath of the 2020 election were false.
The filing, made as part of a defamation case against Giuliani by the election workers, does not mean Giuliani is admitting guilt or wrongdoing, but rather that he acknowledges his statements at the time weren’t true.
After it became clear that Trump had lost the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden — and that he had lost Georgia, a state that had been reliably Republican for decades — Giuliani helped spearhead efforts to overturn the election.
In numerous public statements, Giuliani pushed unfounded claims that election workers — including Ruby Freeman and Wandrea Moss, who worked at the State Farm Arena in Fulton County — had sneaked fake ballots for Biden into the official count so that he could defeat Trump. Giuliani also shared a video alleging that the two had interfered in the election. (The video showed the workers handling ballots, but did not include proof that those ballots had been tampered with.)
As a result of Giuliani’s false claims, Freeman and Moss, who are mother and daughter, became the target of a relentless harassment campaign, receiving hundreds of threats from Trump loyalists. Since then, the two have sued a number of public figures and media outlets for defamation, including the far right One America News Network. Every lawsuit has been settled so far, save for their ongoing litigation against Giuliani.
In his latest filing, Giuliani “concedes” that he “made the statements of and concerning plaintiffs” that they object to. Giuliani further states that he “does not contest” that those comments were “false.”
However, he maintains that the statements are “constitutionally protected.” He also contends that his statements didn’t cause damages or harm to Freeman or Moss.
The wording in the filing stipulates that his admission applies to that case alone, and is not to be used in any other potential defamation or criminal cases. A spokesperson for Giuliani said that the filing was made to “move on to the portion of the case that will permit a motion to dismiss.”
Nevertheless, the admission — coupled with the fact that Giluliani recently met with special counsel investigators examining Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential race — prompted several commentators on social media to speculate that he may be turning on Trump.
“Rudy Giuliani lied. He folded. Trump is so screwed,” said Democratic Party organizer and activist Victor Shi.
“Rudy Giuliani FOLDS … Looks like Rudy is reversing course, cutting his losses — and turning against Trump,” opined lawyer Tristan Snell, whose criticism of Trump is popular on Twitter.
Still, legal observers warned that Giuliani’s filing was not an admission of guilt.
“It is not a concession that he knew the falsehoods he spread about Ruby Freeman and Fulton County election workers were wrong at the time he made them,” constitutional law professor Anthony Michael Kreis wrote on Twitter, “nor is it a concession that his conduct was reckless.”
The filing is simply Giuliani seeking “dismissal of the suit on other grounds that are questions of law, namely litigating what constitutional protections attach,” Kreis continued.
According to CNN legal analyst Elie Honig, Giuliani’s admission won’t help him much in the case overall.
“What he seems to be trying to do is limit this question to, ‘Was it constitutionally protected speech?’ You have a lot of range when it comes to First Amendment political speech, but I cannot conceive how you justify attacking innocent civilian poll workers falsely like this,” said Honig, who is a former federal prosecutor.
“This is a sort of desperate, last-second gasp to try to limit his liability here,” Honig added. “It’s really an astonishing concession.”
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