WASHINGTON (AP) - A Georgia election worker told jurors Tuesday that she feared for her life as she received a barrage of racist and threatening messages fueled by Rudy Giuliani's false claims that she and her mother had rigged the 2020 election results in the state.
Wiping away tears on the witness stand, Wandrea "Shaye" Moss, read messages accusing her of treason and calling her a thug and a racist term. She recounted changing her appearance to try to hide as Giuliani and other allies of former President Donald Trump used surveillance footage to accuse her and her mother, Ruby Freeman, of committing voter fraud.
"I was afraid for my life. I literally felt like someone going to come and attempt to hang me and there’s nothing that anyone will be able to do about it," the 39-year-old said.
Her emotional testimony came on the second day of a defamation trial that Giuliani's lawyer has said could financially ruin the former New York City mayor. He is also preparing to defend himself against criminal charges in a separate case in Georgia over his efforts to keep Trump in power.
The judge overseeing the defamation case has already found Giuliani liable and Giuliani has also acknowledged in court that he made public comments falsely claiming Freeman and Moss committed fraud while counting ballots. The only issue remaining in the trial is the amount of damages Giuliani will have to pay the women.
The women’s lawyers estimated that reputational damages could reach $47 million, and suggested emotional and punitive damages on top of that could be "tens of millions."
Moss, who also testified before the U.S. House Committee that investigated the Capitol attack, recounted being brought into her director's office after Giuliani falsely claimed during a Georgia legislative hearing in December 2020 that workers at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta had committed election fraud.
Moss didn't have any idea that lies about them were being spread and thought her director wanted to recognize her for her election work or give her a job she had been promised, she told jurors. Instead the mood in the room was somber, and soon she learned the real reason for the meeting.
"I am shown these videos, these lies, everything that had been going on that I had no clue about," Moss said.
Moss said she went home that night, scared and confused, and could only watch as the angry messages poured in. Shown a video of Giuliani speaking on his online show about a false suitcase ballot conspiracy, she said: "How can someone with so much power go public and talk about things that he obviously has no clue about? It just obvious that it’s lies."
Earlier on Tuesday, the judge overseeing the case scolded Giuliani for comments made outside the federal courthouse in Washington in which he insisted his false claims about the women were true.
U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell warned Giuliani's lawyer that the remarks his client made to reporters about Moss and Freeman when leaving the courthouse a day earlier amounted to "defamatory statements about them yet again."
The judge appeared incredulous, asking Giuliani’s lawyer about the contradiction of his opening statements calling Freeman and Moss "good people" but then the former mayor repeating unfounded allegations of voter fraud.
"How are we supposed to reconcile that?" she asked the lawyer.
Giuliani's lawyer, Joseph Sibley, conceded her point and told the judge he discussed the comments with his client, but added: "I can't control everything he does." He also argued that the mayor’s age and health concerns make long days in court challenging.
Outside the courthouse on Monday, however, Giuliani told reporters: "When I testify, the whole story will be definitively clear that what I said was true, and that, whatever happened to them—which is unfortunate about other people overreacting—everything I said about them is true."
Giuliani added that Moss and Freeman were "engaged in changing votes." When a reporter pushed back, saying there was no proof of that, Giuliani replied: ""You’re damn right there is. ... Stay tuned."