(NEW YORK) — Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is on trial in Washington, D.C., this week for defaming Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Wandrea “Shaye” Moss in the aftermath of the 2020 election. Giuliani, acting on behalf of former President Donald Trump, accused the mother and daughter of committing election fraud while the two were counting ballots on Election Day in Georgia’s Fulton County.
U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell in August awarded a default judgment to the two women, leaving this week’s trial to determine the full scope of the damages and any penalties Giuliani will have to pay.
Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:
Dec 11, 11:11 AM EST
Judge asks juror prospects about MAGA, QAnon slogans
Prospective jurors are commonly asked to divulge any affiliations with parties in the case, or preconceived views about them. But in this case — a heavily politicized matter involving election lies — Judge Howell’s questioning has veered into some of the cryptic slogans of the far-right movement.
Howell is asking prospective jurors whether they had ever used the expression “Let’s Go Brandon” — a common refrain among President Joe Biden’s detractors — or the hashtag “WWG1WGA,” a motto associated with the QAnon movement.
She is also asking jurors whether they follow Giuliani’s social media channels.
The prospective jurors reflect the unique makeup of nation’s capitol. Among those who have been questioned: a Defense Department official, a U.S. Forest Service official, a Defense Intelligence Agency official, and a woman who had worked for the Girl Scouts.
Dec 11, 10:40 AM EST
Giuliani faces Freeman, Moss for 1st time
When Rudy Giuliani entered the courtroom some 20 minutes late due to delays with the courthouse security line, it was the first time he shared a room with Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss.
Freeman and Moss kept their backs turned away from Giuliani as he entered the courtroom. Moss appeared to swivel her chair slightly to avoid facing him directly.
Giuliani took a seat at the defendant’s table alongside his attorney, Joseph Sibley.
While waiting for Giuliani, Sibley had asked Judge Howell’s permission for Giuliani to bypass the security line moving forward. She said she would discuss it with court personnel, but laid the blame at Giuliani’s feet for his arriving “tardily.”
Dec 11, 10:11 AM EST
Judge welcomes prospective jurors to courtroom
Judge Howell has begun reading instructions to dozens of prospective jurors, after proceedings were delayed slightly due to Giuliani’s late arrival and some apparent issues with juror paperwork.
Howell rose and swore in jurors before the selection process got underway. She emphasized that she would endeavor to seat an impartial and unbiased jury.
“The court has already determined that Mr. Giuliani is liable for defamation, and that Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss are entitled to receive compensation, including in the form of punitive damages, for Mr. Giuliani’s willful conduct,” Howell told jurors.
“The only issue remaining in this trial is for the jury to determine any amount of damages Mr. Giuliani owes to plaintiffs for the damage caused by his conduct,” Howell said.
Dec 11, 9:53 AM EST
Ruling could be another blow to Giuliani’s finances
The $15.5 million to $43 million that Freeman and Moss are seeking from Giuliani reflects the emotional distress and monetary losses associated with the former mayor’s defamatory comments, according to attorneys for the mother and daughter.
If the plaintiffs receive anywhere near those figures, it would mark the latest financial blow to a man who once raked in tens of millions of dollars through security consulting and speaking fees.
Judge Beryl Howell has already ordered Giuliani to pay Freeman and Moss upwards of $230,000 as a sanction for failing to comply with the discovery process of sharing information relevant to the case. In court filings over the summer, Giuliani’s lawyer asked the judge if Giuliani could defer payment, citing the former mayor’s “financial difficulties” as a result of fighting a slew of litigation elsewhere.
Giuliani stands to owe millions more if he loses cases brought by two voting machine companies and his own longtime personal attorney, among other legal challenges he faces. Giuliani has denied all claims.
Dec 11, 8:24 AM EST
Jury selection begins this morning
Jury selection in the case gets underway at the D.C. federal courthouse this morning, where eight Washington residents will be chosen to serve.
Jurors will be tasked with attaching a monetary value to the harm caused by the defamatory statements a judge found Rudy Giuliani liable for making in the wake of the 2020 presidential election.
When the parties arrive in court this morning, it will be the first time Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss face Giuliani in person.
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