Rudy Giuliani Reaches The End Of The Racist Road
What a long, bigoted trip it's been!
In 1992, Rudy Giuliani stood with rioters in New York as they descended on City Hall to protest a police accountability bill. In 2021, he urged on rioters in DC as they descended on the nation’s Capitol to overturn the results of an election they’d lost. It’s appropriate that mass displays of violence bookend a decades-long political career built on white rage, because for Rudy, the animating question has always been “who is entitled to exercise power?” And the answer is: “white people, and no one else.”
The throughline of his entire career has been racism, from his explicitly racist mayoral campaign against David Dinkins, to his support for “stop and frisk” policies that targeted Black New Yorkers, to his claim that Barack Obama doesn't love America because “he wasn't brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up, through love of this country.” Black politicians demanding accountability from white cops, Black citizens casting their votes, the country’s first Black president — all of these are inherently illegitimate in Rudy’s mind (or whatever’s left of it).
And so it’s impossible to separate race from last week’s jury verdict ordering Giuliani to pay $148 million to two Black women whose lives were ruined when he falsely accused them of tabulating thousands of fraudulent ballots.
On election night, Ruby Freeman, a temporary employee at the Fulton County Department of Registration & Elections, was counting votes in Atlanta with her daughter Shaye Moss, a full-time election clerk. After reports of a water main break, their supervisor instructed them to pack up for the evening. But when Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger publicly criticized Fulton County for pausing the count, the women were ordered to resume tabulating. By the time they pulled the stored boxes of ballots out from under the table, election observers had already left for the evening. Three weeks later, Giuliani seized on the grainy footage of the mother and daughter doing their jobs late at night and accused them of tabulating fraudulent ballots in secret, thrusting them into the middle of a deranged conspiracy theory and subjecting them to a torrent of abuse and threats.
Before the election, Freeman was a 62-year-old retired grandmother with a small business selling clothes and accessories. Nevertheless, during his infamous January 2, 2021 call to Raffensperger, demanding that he “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s win, Trump called her a “professional vote scammer,” a “hustler” and a “known political operative” who “stuffed the ballot boxes.”
Giuliani’s racism was even less coded than his boss’s. At a December 10 hearing of Georgia legislators, he described the women passing USB thumb drives between them, “as if they’re vials of heroin and cocaine. I mean it’s obvious to anyone who is a criminal investigator or prosecutor, they’re engaged in surreptitious illegal activity.” In fact, the women were sharing mints during the long shift tabulating legal votes to ensure the smooth running of America’s democracy.
The story was immediately debunked, to the extent that it was ever “bunked” to begin with. Giuliani never bothered to explain where the “fraudulent” ballots came from, or how the women knew there would be a water main break. In some sense, it didn’t matter — once you’ve decided that truth is irrelevant, the internal logical consistency of the lie is kind of beside the point. And anyway, Trump and Giuliani never seriously argued that there was pervasive fraud in any specific precinct. Their claim was that a win based on votes from majority-Black cities was definitionally illegitimate. It simply couldn’t happen in an America where white people hold power, and Trump had no qualms about tossing out the votes of 23 million people across seven swing states by substituting fake electors for the real ones, much less risking the lives of a couple of civil servants, if it meant he could stay in office.
So Giuliani went pedal to the metal when he found two Black women to blame for Biden’s win in Georgia, ignoring pleas by election officials to stop spreading lies before someone got killed. The man who condemned the Black Lives Matter movement as “inherently racist” and claimed that it “puts a target on the backs of [police officers],” gleefully targeted Freeman and Moss, heedless of the thousands of threats that rained down on them. Indeed, the threats themselves make it perfectly clear that Giuliani’s listeners understood this was a racist attack.
“The coon c---s should be locked up for voter fraud!!!” one wrote on Parler. Another sent a message to Freeman fantasizing about watching her family be lynched, saying “I pray that I will be close enough to hear your necks snap." Moss’s teen-aged son, who was using her old cellphone, faced a barrage of horrendous, racist messages, such as “Be glad it’s 2020 and not 1920. You would be hanging along with your mother.”
The women were terrified, fleeing their homes for safety. Moss’s son fell apart in school, and the whole family was seized by anxiety and fear that persists to this day.
“I am most scared of my son finding me or my mom hanging outside my house on a tree, or having to get the news at school that his momma was killed,” Moss testified last week. “That’s what I’m most afraid of.”
"I don't have my name anymore. If you have nothing else, you have your name," Freeman said in court, describing how she travels through the world in disguise, using a fake name. "My life is all messed up. It's really messed up. All because of someone's tweet and putting me on blast."
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After Freeman and Moss sued him in December of 2021 for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress, Giuliani continued to treat them as non-persons. He ignored basic discovery requests for a year, until he wound up on the pointy end of a default judgment issued by US District Judge Beryl Howell.
In court, he barely acknowledged the women as human.
“Poor little Ruby. Up against Rudy, with all those lawyers,” he sneered Monday, before wandering out onto the courthouse steps to repeat his defamatory lies about them stealing the election.
His lawyer Joseph Sibley IV wisely elected to keep Giuliani off the witness stand after sharp questioning from Judge Howell about how he was going to stop his client from making even more defamatory statements in front of the jury. Instead, Sibley interrogated Moss about why a woman like her thought her suffering could be worth millions of dollars, while trying to get her to admit that Rudy doesn’t have a racist bone in his body.
"He assumed that, because we are Black, we are Dems," Moss shot back, adding, "He doesn't know me from a hole in the wall."
Asked if she thought Giuliani intended her family to be barraged with racist threats, she noted, "He didn't go onto BET Nightly News to spread his lies... he went to places where he knew his people would hear."
And, when questioned on re-direct by her own lawyer about the claim that she and her mother were passing around USB drives like drugs, she remarked, "That’s what he thinks about Black folks."
In his closing, Sibley tried hard to convince the jurors that, although the defendant behaved badly, he bore no racial animus — perish the very thought!
"This is the Giuliani most of us remember,” Sibley said, holding up a copy of the defendant’s 2005 book in praise of his own conduct after September 11. “He's the guy who became the mayor of New York City. One of the most diverse cities in the country. So the idea of him being a racist, that's really a low blow."
Apparently, the jurors were able to imagine that a person could be simultaneously the elected leader of a lot of Black people and also really, really racist. And they weren’t that impressed with Sibley’s suggestion that Black women’s pain should come at a steep discount when valued against the legacy of a “great” white man.
The jury awarded $16 million to Moss and $17 million to Freeman on the emotional distress claim, plus another $20 million each for defamation. And, on top of that, it assessed $75 million in punitive damages.
As if to emphasize that no, really, he’s definitely a racist reprobate, Giuliani immediately ran to Steve Bannon to complain about the unfairness of trying him in DC, the majority-Black city where he chose to air so many of the horrible lies. (He never contested venue.)
It’s a fitting coda for a man who spent an entire career demagoguing about dangerous Black criminals and the threat to white power. And, while Giuliani may be judgment-proof, at the very least Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss will be first in line of the many, many parties suing him to take what remains of his assets.
Thanks to Rudy’s lies, Ruby Freeman can never go back to the home she lived in for 20 years. For months, she lived out of her car, sleeping at various friends’ houses. Casting that racist old goat into penury won’t bring back Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss’s old life. But … it’s a start.