Washington — Ruby Freeman, one of the Georgia women at the center of a conspiracy theory alleging widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election, testified that she received hundreds of racist and threatening messages saying things like “we know where you sleep” and “you are dead” after she said former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani spread lies about her online.
Freeman took the witness stand Wednesday in her civil defamation trialand testified that she received phone calls, emails, messages and letters at her home in the months after the presidential election. Freeman said almost a dozen people even came to her home looking for her, calling for her with bullhorns.
“This just all started with one tweet,” she said tearfully. “They messed up my name. They messed up my business.”
“Ruby Freeman, I hope the Federal Government hangs you and your daughter from the Capitol dome you treasonous piece of s***! I pray that I will be sitting close enough to hear your necks snap,” one individual wrote to Freeman in a message to her business.
Freeman and her daughter, Wandrea’ ArShaye “Shaye” Moss, sued Giuliani, demanding financial damages for defamation. A federal judge in Washington, D.C., entered a default judgment against the former New York City mayor and ruled he was liable for defaming the pair.
Giuliani has conceded that he had made false statements about Freeman and Moss when he claimed they engaged in voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election. However, he maintained that he was engaging in constitutionally protected speech when he leveled the accusations.
A jury of eight will decide how much Giuliani will have to pay Freeman and Moss. The two are asking forin damages.
Moss told the jury Tuesday that the absentee ballot processing team that she oversaw — which included her mother — did a “perfect job” examining the votes that came into their facility, the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, during the election. But the mother and daughter said their lives changed when a conservative outlet, the Gateway Pundit, and Giuliani identified them in security camera videos of the ballot processing facility and falsely tied them to voter fraud.
Giuliani claimed Freeman and Moss added fake ballots to the vote count in Joe Biden’s favor and inserted a USB drive into election machines. What came afterward, according to Freeman and Moss, was a deluge of threatening and racist messages. An investigation by the Georgia secretary of state later concluded, “All allegations made against Freeman and Moss were unsubstantiated and found to have no merit.”
During her testimony, Freeman — who identified herself as a proud American and business owner — said she was a temporary election worker for Fulton County, Georgia, during the 2020 election, but it was not until December 2020 that she and her business started getting racist death threats.
“Cut a deal with uncle Rudy Giuliani,” said another message.
On Wednesday, the jury was shown numerous messages and voicemails filled with racist language against Freeman and her daughter. Some mentioned the Ku Klux Klan, while others accused Freeman and Moss of treason, according to exhibits displayed at trial. Freeman described the terror she felt as she was bombarded with phone calls, messages and letters, telling the court she reported the incidents to the police but was still ultimately forced to leave her home for two months for her safety.
“I took it as they were gonna cut me up, put me in a trash bag and take me out to my street,” she said of one note she received. “I felt as if I was terrorized.”
In his opening statements Monday, Giuliani’s defense attorney, Joseph Sibley, sought to distance his client from the actions of those who attacked Freeman and Moss, telling the jury that Giuliani didn’t intend for individuals to threaten them.
Sibley said he would not contest the facts of the case because of the court’s previous rulings, and he conceded that the jury would see lots of evidence of damages. “At the end of this…I’m gonna ask you to award a number of damages against my client,” he said Monday, adding that the number he will argue for at the end of Giuliani’s trial will be “fair and proportional,” in accordance with what Giuliani actually did.
On Wednesday, however, Freeman talked about a post-election communications strategy from Giuliani’s team that said she herself would be a key component that would be used to cast doubt on the 2020 election.
The communications plan referenced the video of Freeman at the Fulton County ballot counting center and said she was engaging in “ballot stuffing.”
“This was a plan from the beginning that if…number 45 didn’t win, that they had already set this plan up,” she said of Trump, the 45th president, and his allies. She said that according to the plan, she would be their “culprit.”
Under direct examination, Freeman recalled she heard Trump identify her on a call with Georgia’s secretary of state in January 2021. In that conversation, the former president called her a “professional vote scammer.”
“How mean. How evil. I just was devastated,” Freeman said Tuesday. “He had no clue what he was talking about.”
Freeman said she no longer uses her real name when speaking with people in order to avoid being recognized. “People were afraid to be associated with me.”
Plaintiffs also called Ashlee Humphreys, a Northwestern University professor, to the stand to analyze the online impressions of Giuliani’s claims, the ripple effect of their spread and to quantify potential damages.
She painstakingly detailed her methodology for the court, testifying that a multimillion-dollar restoration campaign could help Freeman and Moss repair their reputations.
Humphreys conceded that in this case, she was not tasked with examining the impact of the initial identification of the pair by other news media on their reputation but said she was involved in separate litigation on the matter.
Giuliani’s defense attorney did not cross-examine Freeman during Wednesday’s testimony and the plaintiffs rested their case.
The former New York City mayor said he intends to take the stand in his own defense on Thursday.