‘How evil’: Ruby Freeman describes violent threats after false Trump, Giuliani attacks

“I just felt like ‘really?’ This is the former president talking about me? Me? How mean, how evil? I just was devastated,” Freeman recalled, fighting back tears as she recounted the episode. “I didn’t do nothing. It just made me feel … you don’t care that I’m a real person.”

“He didn’t know what he was talking about really,” Freeman continued, refusing to use Trump’s name but addressing him as “45.” “He had no clue what he was talking about. He was just trying to put a name to somebody stealing ballots, which was totally a lie.”

Trump mentioned Freeman 18 times on the Jan. 2, 2021, call with Raffensperger. An audio recording of that call was published in the media the next day. Freeman’s lawyers noted in court that Trump’s rhetoric echoed language crafted by Giuliani’s legal team as part of a last ditch PR blitz in connection with their effort to subvert the 2020 election and keep Trump in power.

As the claims spread among Trump’s followers — even as Georgia election officials sought to debunk them — Freeman said the threats to her became more acute. People began showing up to her home, sending threatening voicemails and letters and bombarding her social media accounts with violent and racist vitriol.

Eventually, Freeman said, she left her longtime home on advice of the FBI after learning that her name appeared on a “death list” kept by someone who had just been arrested. Her testimony was likely a reference to Thomas Caldwell, an Oath Keeper affiliate who was one of the earliest defendants arrested just days after the Jan. 6 attack.

Freeman’s powerful testimony came in a jury trial in Washington stemming from a civil lawsuit she and her daughter Shaye Moss filed two years ago, accusing Giuliani of defaming them and intentionally inflicting emotional distress on them.

While Giuliani is the only remaining defendant in the lawsuit, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell has ruled he is liable as part of a civil conspiracy for statements by Trump and others connected to his 2020 presidential campaign. Trump was not sued in the case.

After finding that Giuliani defied demands for evidence related to the case, Howell ruled Giuliani legally responsible for defaming the women, leaving the only issue for the jury to determine the amount of damages he must pay to them.

Freeman and Moss are seeking between $14 million and $41 million from Giuliani for defamation and emotional distress, in addition to punitive damages. Jurors could begin deliberating in the case as soon as Thursday.

Often choking up, sobbing and using tissue to dab away tears, Freeman recounted the barrage of threats she received.

“Kill yourself now so we can save AMMO,” read one message.

“I hope the Federal government hangs you and your daughter from the Capitol dome you treasonous piece of shit!” read another. “I pray that I will be sitting close enough to hear your necks snap.”

Giuliani has been present in the courtroom as Freeman and Moss recounted how his lies about them upended their lives, but on the first two days of the trial this week he exited and issued defiant statements to reporters, defending his attacks on the two women and calling the lawsuit a “political hit job.” Just as he did during Moss’ testimony Tuesday, Giuliani evinced little reaction as Freeman recounted the terror she felt in the weeks after the false claims began to spread, forcing her to leave her home and shutter her pop-up boutique.

“I felt horrible. I felt I was terrorized. I was scared,” Freeman said. “The phone just kept ringing and ringing.”

Freeman said she now wears a mask and sunglasses outside her new home, which has been fitted with security cameras and alarms.

“My life is just messed up. It’s really messed up all because somebody put me on blast, just tweet my name out to their millions of followers,” she declared.

Freeman spent about 90 minutes on the witness stand, before Giuliani’s attorney, Joseph Sibley, had a chance to cross-examine her. He chose to pass that up, simply telling Freeman — who’s been at the trial since it opened Monday — that it was nice to “finally” have the chance to meet her.

As he left court Wednesday, Giuliani said he intends to take the stand on Thursday. Sibley said earlier that he planned to call the former New York City mayor to respond to the allegations against him but has since acknowledged strains between him and his client as Giuliani repeatedly contradicted him in statements to the press.

Lawyers for the election workers have chiefly pointed to the timing of the messages in trying to tie the threats and harassment to Giuliani’s public accusations, but Sibley has suggested it is hard to separate his conduct from others who made similar allegations.

However, one message sent to Freeman via Facebook Messenger explicitly mentioned Giuliani.

“U better get on the phone with Uncle Rudy Giuliani and cut a deal. It might keep you out of the big house,” the anonymous sender wrote.

Many of the messages, letters and calls included flagrantly racist tropes, insults and threats. One sender’s email address included the letters “KKK.”

Earlier Wednesday, lawyers for both sides questioned an expert witness for the election workers about her estimates of how many people saw false statements about the pair circulated by Giuliani or colleagues on the Trump campaign and the cost of trying to repair the damage.

The expert, Ashlee Humphreys, said as much as $74 million could be required to counter the falsehoods and restore the reputations of the two women. She estimated the defamatory and emotionally harmful messages amplified by Giuliani, Trump and others received as many as 249 million “impressions” on social media, broadcast television and elsewhere.

“The names of Ruby Freeman and Ms. Moss were used in very negative ways. There were lots of threats,” Humphreys said. “To repair reputational harm, it’s not easy.”

During cross-examination, Sibley suggested that positive news coverage and awards like the presidential medals of freedom President Joe Biden gave to the election workers earlier this year had mitigated some of the damage to their reputations. The defense attorney also said some of the so-called repair work Humphreys proposed would be pointless.

“Is the whole goal of this case to forcibly convert election deniers?” Sibley asked. “Why are we going to waste our time with flat-earth people?”

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