Two Georgia election workers at the heart of a Fulton County defamation lawsuit against Donald Trump’s former lawyer win a court victory. The former president may opt out of an in-person Sept. 6 arraignment, and his mug shot makes an appearance in a rival’s campaign ad.
Georgia election interference
Judge rules Giuliani is liable for defaming 2 Georgia election workers
Key players: Former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, pastor Stephen Lee, publicist Trevian Kutti, Black Voices for Trump director Harrison Floyd, U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis
In a separate but related case to the one brought by Willis against former President Donald Trump, Giuliani and 17 others, Howell ruled Wednesday that Giuliani was liable for defaming Georgia election workers Freeman and Moss, Politico reported.
Freeman and Moss filed a suit against Giuliani and Trump for repeatedly pushing conspiracy theories accusing the two workers of manipulating ballots during the counting of votes following the 2020 presidential election.
In the wake of that smear campaign, Floyd, Kutti and Lee all pressured Freeman and Moss to “reveal information” about vote manipulation or face “the threat of incarceration,” according to the Fulton County indictment charging the 19 defendants.
Howell ruled that Giuliani had not followed her orders to preserve evidence and offer it to Freeman and Moss as part of the defamation lawsuit. As a result, the former New York City mayor was ordered to pay the two workers punitive damages.
Why it matters: The defamation trial against Giuliani will decide how much he must pay the two workers. At the heart of the case brought by Willis, the same conspiracy theories will be presented as evidence against Giuliani and those accused of harassing Freeman and Moss.
Trump may not appear in person for Sept. 6 arraignment in Georgia
Like some of his co-defendants in the Fulton County election interference case, Trump is considering entering a not-guilty plea in writing rather than attend a scheduled Sept. 6 arraignment before McAfee in Atlanta, CBS News reported.
Fulton County Superior Court allows defendants the option to either enter a plea in the courtroom, to appear virtually or to submit a waiver and enter a plea in writing.
On Tuesday, former Trump lawyer Powell used a waiver to enter her not-guilty plea.
Why it matters: Trump has been obliged to appear in person for arraignment in the three other criminal cases in which he has been indicted. Unlike the other jurisdictions, Fulton County is likely to televise the Sept. 6 arraignments.
Christie super-PAC uses Trump mug shot in campaign ad
Key player: Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
Tell It Like It Is PAC, which supports Christie’s candidacy to become the Republican presidential nominee in 2024, is up with the ad in New Hampshire.
As the mug shot of Trump appears, a narrator delivers the following line: "Tired of the drama, the distractions, the lies? It’s time for conservatives to win again.”
The Trump campaign wasted little time monetizing the mug shot, raising $9.4 million off sales of T-shirts, coffee mugs and other merchandise, Business Insider reported.
Why it matters: Trump’s mug shot is something of a Rorschach test, further dividing supporters, who see it as a symbol of defiance against a corrupt system, and critics, who consider it as further confirmation of guilt. In the general election, however, the real battle will be for independent voters.