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The Lead with Jake Tapper
The Russian Intelligence That Went Missing Under Trump; Rudy Giuliani Ordered To Pay More Than $148M To Two Georgia Election Workers He Defamed. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired December 15, 2023 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: News 12 New Jersey reports the animal control officials believe he came from a meat market three miles away. So, he fled from being turned into a steak.
This is how Ricardo ended his day at his new home, at this island animal sanctuary where he's going to live out the rest of his days.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Hey.
SANCHEZ: An escape that turns out well for everybody.
BROWN: For Ricardo, he didn't get turned into, you know, hamburger. I mean, that's good for Ricardo, for fleeing three miles. Wow.
SANCHEZ: Good for him.
BROWN: THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Tragic news today for the families of three hostages currently held by Hamas.
THE LEAD starts right now.
Three Israeli hostages accidentally shot and killed earlier today by Israeli forces, in the fog of war. Tragic news.
Plus, verdict watch at a D.C. courthouse. At any moment, we're expecting the jury to return a verdict, one that could cost Rudy Giuliani almost $50 million after he defamed two election workers in Georgia who were just trying to do their jobs.
Plus, CNN exclusive. The case of the missing classified binder. Once in the hands of Donald Trump, how did this notebook with top secret material on Russia just vanish? Poof. In the final hours of the presidency. And could that information will be in the wrong hands?
TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
We start this hour with an exclusive from a team of CNN journalists who report that a binder containing highly classified intelligence on Russia's attempts to interfere in the 2016 election disappeared in the final days of Donald Trump's presidency. To our knowledge, that top secret information is still missing, more than three years later. And there are many theories as to where this missing binder might be, and who may have taken it.
One of those theories came from Cassidy Hutchinson, one former chief of staff Mark Meadows top aides, who wrote about Mark Meadows taking the file in her book.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER AIDE TO FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF MARK MEADOWS: I watched him climb into the limo, noticing the original Crossfire Hurricane binder tucked under his arm. I did not have time to ask what he planned to do with it as he drove away. What the hell is Mark doing with the unredacted Crossfire Hurricane binder?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
TAPPER: It's a good question. And I asked Hutchinson to expand on this passage of her book when I interviewed her about her book.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Meadows takes what you believe is a classified binder, Crossfire Hurricane, which is the Trump-Russia investigation. And he takes it to far-right media figures who basically toe the MAGA party line. And Cipollone tells you, this classified information, and get it back. And you get it back.
Meadows said --
HUTCHINSON: I don't personally give it back.
TAPPER: But it gets brought back. It gets brought back.
HUTCHINSON: Not binders by the way, it was unbound.
TAPPER: Unbound. Okay, but Meadows says, no, everything he gave had been unclassified by Trump.
HUTCHINSON: Well, I would say that there is a reason those documents were brought back. And I would -- that's a very devious response in my opinion because, one, we got those documents back for a reason. Two, those documents have not been fully declassified by the justice department.
TAPPER: Yeah. I mean, that's a potential law violation.
HUTCHINSON: Correct, and that is also, it goes to show how there's, there was a mentality in the Trump administration of being frivolous with some of our national -- with some of our country's most sensitive national security secrets. Do we really want people like that back in power?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Now, Mark Meadows attorneys strongly denies that Meadows mishandled any classified information at the White House. Regardless of what theory there is on who took the binder, or where it might be, now we know that the misinformation inside of it was so secretive, that that binder was kept in a safe within another safe at the headquarters of the CIA.
Let's bring in some of the stellar CNN journalist who broke the story. CNN's Evan Perez, Katie Bo Lillis, and Jeremy Herb.
Jeremy, set the scene for us. Where did this binder even come from?
JEREMY HERB, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Yeah, Jake, this binder contained a massive collection of documents related to the FBI's investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia, including this highly classified intelligence that was about Russia's attempts to meddle in the 2016 election.
Now, President Trump, he spent years as president trying to do classified documents that he believed would prove his claims that the Russia investigation, the FBI's investigation, was a hoax. And so, he ordered these documents brought to the White House in the final days of his presidency.
That set off a mad scramble at the White House to try and redact these documents, so they could be declassified and released. The former president, he signed the declassification order on his final full day in office. But that order actually did not lead to the documents being released, Jake.
TAPPER: And, Jeremy, tell us more about this mad scramble to get this information declassified within the very hour that Joe Biden was about to be sworn in as president.
HERB: Yeah, this is -- with literally limit minutes to fair spare in Trump's presidency, Mark Meadows, former White House chief of staff, he brought a copy or redacted copy of this binder to the Justice Department. His idea here, he wanted the Justice Department to do a final privacy act review.
Now, he and his allies, they thought this review would just take a couple of days, and then the information would be released. But years later, the Justice Department still has not released all of these documents. And a Trump ally, actually earlier this year, he sued to try and force the government's hands.
So, this is a fight Jake, it's still ongoing.
TAPPER: Evan, does this have anything to do with the FBI searching for classified documents at Trump's Mar-a-Lago back in August 2022?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: No, it does not, Jake. I mean, we have been told that to the search at Mar-a-Lago, the subpoena, everything, they were not looking for these documents specifically. We know from the documents that they did retrieve during that search at Mar-a-Lago, that these were not among the documents. They were part of it.
We've also, you know, you can look at the court record in Jack Smith's case that is been brought against the former president for mishandling classified documents. That is not, this is not mentioned.
We do know though that the FBI certainly spent months and months fighting off efforts by the former president, and people in Congress trying to get their hands on the full, full version of this binder. And they were very, very concerned that this would be damaging if it ever got out.
TAPPER: Katie Bo, when it comes to national security, and the upcoming presidential election, how big a deal is this binder should it get into the wrong hands?
KATIE BO LILLIS, CNN REPORTER: Well, Jake, we know that as you mentioned, some of the information contained it was so sensitive, that congressional officials are only allowed to view it at CIA headquarters, and that it had to be kept inside a safe at Langley. But the real issue is that this binder contained what is known as sources and methods, right? This is some of the most sensitive information that the U.S. government possesses. It is the means by which the intelligence community acquires its information.
So for the intelligence community, there's really no graver risk because if, for example, the identity of a human sources exposed, it could put that person's life in danger, or if a foreign government learns that the U.S. has clandestine access to a particular computer network, for example, it might move to close off that access, leaving the United States in the dark.
So, we don't know what the sources and methods detailed in this binder were. But we do know that some of the intelligence had been gathered by America's NATO allies. So they would also have been a potential diplomatic risk if the U.S. allowed those allied secrets to be exposed. That's why the disappearance of this binder was so alarming to intelligence officials. And in, fact it was so worrying that officials briefed Senate Intelligence Committee leadership on the situation last year, some 12 months after Trump had left the White House.
And then as we know, here we are more than two years later, we still do not know if this binder has been recovered.
TAPPER: Katie Bo Lillis, Evan Perez, Jeremy Herb, thanks to all of you.
Joining us now to discuss, Olivia Troye, the former homeland security adviser for Vice President Pence. She left the Trump administration in August 2020.
Olivia, did you ever hear about this binder?
OLIVIA TROYE, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER, VP MIKE PENCE: Look, no, I was not involve in anything related to the binder. What I'll say is, I'm very familiar with how we handled raw intelligence, especially in the White House. And I can tell you that reading this story was just infuriating, just to see kind of the way it was mishandled, and the fact that this binder is still missing today. And we have no idea where it is, it is just unbelievable to me, and again, another sign of just plain disregard for our national security.
TAPPER: Yeah. So, it's 2023 right now, but I'm flashing back to 2016. I seem to recall one of the main arguments against Hillary Clinton was a Republican saying that she was allegedly careless with classified information, by using this private email server. And I'm not saying they were even wrong. But that was one of the arguments. And they seem to care quite a bit about this, and how it could expose assets to horrible things.
I'm not a national security expert. I'm just a journalist. But this seems worse than what Hillary Clinton was accused of doing a secretary of state.
TROYE: It's 1,000 times worse. Look, I was within the national security community when all those conversations about Hillary and the emails were going on, I was upset about that. I had some concerns about it.
TROYE: I was like, you know, I wish we'd be taking this seriously, especially when it comes to our country's leaders.
But this is on a whole other level. And I think what we have both sources and methods, I just want to put in incredible level that we're talking about people's lives here. And it also, the exposure of other potential operations that a binder like this might disrupt, that are still ongoing, still today.
That is the context for this binder and what it contained, and how disturbing it is, that we would just sort of, somehow it just disappears into thin air, walks out because that is people's lives. And it's also years, years of setting up these operations that are potentially in that binder, that could leave and expose us in so many different ways, including our foreign partners.
TAPPER: So, but Cassidy Hutchinson also talks about Meadows taking a copy of this classified binder, and sharing it with these two MAGA friendly media figures, who, you know, not that it would be okay to take it to Bernstein anyway, because it is classified. But these people were hardly Woodward and Bernstein. These were people who were, essentially media operatives for Donald Trump.
And whether it's the original document, or a copy of it, that also seems to be an egregious violation of when you're trusted with national security secrets.
TROYE: Right. I mean, what clearances do these people have to have anything?
TROYE: And so, I mean, they're people -- we spend years vetting people. My clearance, my TS, like all of this, I've got polygraphs, like, that takes years of vetting for people that you're going to be entrusted with this information. And even so, when you're reading the raw intelligence, I would have to go into a room, sign my name, and sign it out, read it in the room, then sign my name, that I had accessed it and sign out the time that I walked out of that room.
TROYE: And a SCIF within a SCIF, so to speak, right? So, here we have right wing pundits who are going to take it, they're going to distort the narratives, use it, I don't know if they're going to get with it. But again, it's just like -- why are we not taking this seriously as Republicans who care about national security, Republicans who, back in the day, used to stand against Russia.
This is Russian intel. This is way serious. We should be taking this very, very seriously, and investigating it.
TAPPER: Well, I'll tell you something, if that was Obama or Biden's chief of staff sharing it with a bunch of MSNBC pundits, there will be congressional hearings right now, I mean, without question.
Why are Trump allies still obsessed with what is in this binder? I mean, there has been an investigation into the things that went wrong with the Trump-Russia investigation, right? I mean, there was an entire investigation, the Durham investigation, and there obviously were mistakes that were made, why are they still focused on this?
TROYE: Well, I think they want the information. They think it's compromising. And also, look, I'm very curious as to, did they hand that binder off to someone else? What are they holding over people?
TAPPER: What if Russians got it? That's another question.
TROYE: That's exactly what I'm saying. Did they get a hold of it? And also -- it's a compromising of other partners who may have been involved in these operations. I'm talking about international partners, that's putting their people at risk, or their operations at risk. If it gets into the wrong hands -- look, all of this is playing into Putin's hand. I look at this with the context of what's happening with Ukraine funding as well.
And I am watching sort of the Republican Party backslide in strength on national security, and foreign affairs. I think this is just another gorgeous example of how these people who are governing right now are not to be taken seriously. And it's another example on why Donald Trump should not step foot in that Oval Office ever again.
TAPPER: Olivia Troye, thank you so much. I appreciate it. TROYE: In our law justice lead, right now, lawyers and parties are
assembling in courtrooms as part of Rudy Giuliani's defamation trial, in anticipation of a pending verdict. Giuliani, as you may recall, was already found liable for defamation by a judge for falsely smearing to Georgia election workers, accusing them falsely of ballot tampering.
CNN's Katelyn Polantz is outside the courthouse in D.C.
Katelyn, what are you seeing, and hearing there? And also, what exactly was the jury tasked with deciding?
KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Jake, we are in a moment where we may be very close to a verdict. The judge has just taken the bench. The jury has been out for ten hours, deliberating, and it sounds as if there is a verdict now. The judges say there's a unanimous decision in just a few minutes ago. The lawyers were all reassembling.
We have a verdict in the Rudy Giuliani case. This damages defamation trial, where two women, Ruby Freeman, and Shaye Moss, are seeking tens of millions of dollars. They've asked for at least $48 million, just to repair their reputations, that Rudy Giuliani slandered over and over again, in more than a dozen statements after the 2020 election, mentioning them by name, and lying about what they did as poll workers, they had counted absentee ballots.
He said they switched votes. That was not what happened at all. These two women who went from anonymous workers, one was a worker employed by Georgia, one was a volunteer election worker, a mother and daughter. They went to become people who received just torrents of harassment from across the country, voicemails, messages, people came to their doors, people sent them pizzas unsolicited with racist messages in the checks that were on those pizzas that arrived at their homes.
The jury heard all of this, they've been grappling with how much to award these two women, not just to repair their reputations, for that reputational damage, but also for the emotional distress that they've suffered. There is not in the amount that they are asking for. The jury has free rein to pick a number to award them for their emotional distress.
And on top of that, their lawyers have asked this jury to punish Rudy Giuliani, to send a message, not just to him, that he must stop talking about these women, and stop lying about them, but to send a message to anyone in a position of power who may be doing similar things. I will just remind you of one thing that was set on the stand during this testimony, Shaye Moss, one of those workers said to Rudy Giuliani's lawyer, I can't repair my reputation when your client keeps talking about me, and keeps putting lies next to my name.
TAPPER: The jury is coming into the courtroom right now. We're told it's an anonymous verdict. We will bring that to you as that happens. And, Katelyn, just to remind people, Rudy Giuliani did not end up
testifying in his own defense, which was probably a wise decision, because he was, earlier this week, on TV lying still, standing by his previous lies that he has already been found guilty of defamation, standing by his previous lies, promising that he was going to go on the stand and continue lying, ultimately somebody, wiser heads prevailed in convinced him that that would be a bad idea. But he has really done himself no favors because as you note, this is an attempt to send a message, not just to Rudy Giuliani, but to all of the bad actors out there, you can't do this.
We'll see what the jury ultimately decides.
POLANTZ: That's right Jake. So, one of the things that happened, as happened here over at the courthouse, the things that happened outside are not necessarily what happens before the judge, before the jury in court. Rudy Giuliani, on Monday, after the proceedings, the first day of this trial, walked outside, and immediately doubled down. And said standby, I'm going to have more information for you, doubling down on those lies, or at least in saying that he attempted to double down on those lies.
But that was not the strategy that his attorney took in court. His attorney actually told the jury, these women have a valid story to tell. What I am here trying to do, on behalf of Rudy Giuliani in this court, is limit the amount of damages you assess against him. Don't fine him too much. He's not the only person responsible in this, have compassion for them.
And his attorney, Rudy Giuliani's attorney, even told the jury, we are not going to be calling Rudy Giuliani to testify because these two women, Shaye Moss, and Ruby Freeman, they have been through enough. Their testimony was powerful.
The jury heard it. They weren't going to counter that with Rudy Giuliani on the stand.
TAPPER: And, Katelyn, let me -- let me interrupt you for one second. We are told that the jury has awarded monetary damages, and they are in the amount of $16 million per victim. So 16, I guess plaintive I should say, $16 million for Ruby Freeman, $16 million for Shaye Moss. That is a lot of money, $32 million.
Not as much as they were asking for, $48 million, but still quite a bit of money.
And, Katelyn, does Rudy Giuliani even have that money anymore?
POLANTZ: Jake, it doesn't appear so. And, Jake, we are now looking at what our reporters inside the courtroom are sending out as information now. Holmes Libran (ph) and watching this live, is saying that the punitive damages in this case, the punishment, the message to be sent here, that amount is $75 million. That is on top of $40 million, $20 each, for the emotional distress
being felt by Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss. And then on top of that, $16.1 million for Ruby Freeman, for the defamation, the reputational damage she suffered, and almost $17 million for Shaye Moss for the reputational damage that she has suffered.
So, that is well over $100 million awarded to these two women in total. That is a very, very large sum. I've been looking back, and that is the type of number that these women surely would've been hoping for, to truly send a message as their attorneys were wanting here.
That number is not a number that Rudy Giuliani, or any individual in his state would very likely be able to pay. They are going to be asking, we already know from some of the proceedings this morning, to try and start collecting on what they can immediately.
But that is not necessarily all this case is about. It is not just, do they get the money in hand? It is the message that it sends, and $75 million as punishment is quite an astonishing number.
TAPPER: So, let me just read these numbers again. So for Ruby Freeman, $16 million for defamation. Also for Ruby Freeman, $20 million for emotional distress.
For Shaye Moss, $16 million for defamation. I'm approximating here. For emotional distress for Shaye Moss, $20 million. And then on top of that, $75 million in punitive damages, do I have that right?
POLANTZ: That is what I'm seeing as well as our reporting at this time.
One of the things to remember here is that punitive damages can skyrocket in cases like this. They are something that really, the jury has a lot of breadth to go with. Although there are -- there are laws that say it can't go more than three or four times the amount in the other damages that have been assessed. But this is, more than $148 million. That is an astonishing amount of money.
And this is against one man. This is Rudy Giuliani, a person, not a company, not a group of people. One person for the statements that he made after the 2020 election.
TAPPER: One man who almost singlehandedly ruined the reputations and lives of these two women, we should say. I know you know.
So, again, this is -- the lawyers originally asked for $48 million for Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, and they ultimately got $148 million, really shocking.
Let me bring in Evan Perez now.
Evan, really, I guess not surprising in one sense, that the jury was asked to send a message to the election liars, who are so careless, and reckless, not only with the truth, but with the reputations of innocent individuals, like these two election workers. One of whom was just a volunteer.
But that is an astounding figure. I am not sure that it will hold up on appeal, but it is an astounding figure, $148 million for the two of them.
PEREZ: It truly is, Jake. And one of the things, you know, look, one of the things about the American system, right, there's a lot of criticism about our system, but one thing is that you can go to court and put a number on the cost of these lives that Rudy Giuliani, and Sidney Powell, and Donald Trump, and everyone around them were parroting, and were, frankly, just using as a coddle against, not only Freeman, but against so many other people in the wake of the former president's losing the election in 2020.
And what this does, is you have a jury that has actually put a number to the cost, just in the case of Rudy Giuliani. In this case, just over $148 million. That is the cost of that. And, look, I mean, the two women there, they testified to the January 6 committee. They testified to this court. They've told their story of what this cost them.
They can't go to the store without being fearful. They've gotten all of these threats. You've heard some of those awful, awful threats, the audio of some of those threats they received. And they are not alone, right?
Because the other -- the other thing is that this case is just a small reminder of the threats that are being felt by election workers, by state officials, by people around the country, anyone who is associated with elections has been on the receiving end of these types of threats. And people fear for their lives.
And so, some people, in this case, these two women, have decided that they are going to court to fight back. And the cost that we now know from a jury, that comes with that is $148 million. I can read you just another -- just another summation of these numbers. For defamation, for Ruby Freeman, $16.1 million. For Shaye Moss, just under $17 million. Emotional distress for Ruby Freeman, $20 million, and $20 million also for Shaye Moss. And punitive damages, altogether, $75 million, according to this jury here in Washington.
And so, put together again, $148 million, something that Rudy Giuliani has publicly said, in various other litigations, that he does not have the money to pay. We know that he has, Jake, he's put on the market some of his real estate. He had real estate in New York, Florida, but he has been trying to sell.
All of course in the middle of some other messy financial dealings, and everybody's had.
He was trying to get rid of some other assets, because of a rather messy personal life he's had over the past few years. So, altogether, the question is, how much of this, these two women will be able to recover, to try and mend the damage that has been done. It's not clear. It's going to be -- one of the things that happens now is that Jake, these two ladies are going to have to hire lawyers to go chase after these assets around the country, wherever Rudy has them, to try and attach their claims to it, and be able to collect it. It's not over at all just because of this verdict today.
TAPPER: Yeah, and we should note, I mean, earlier this year, Fox had to pay $787.5 million to Dominion voting because of the lies that their anchors, hosts, and guests constantly spewed during this same period. It turns out these lies and defamatory comments are ending up to be really expensive for many people.
PEREZ: Right. And we should add, by the way, the person at the center of this, Donald Trump, right, has so far been able to just use a lot of donations from average people across the country. He's used 2020 election, and insofar to overturn that as a real huge fundraising game for himself. And they have collected millions, and millions, and millions of dollars, and that is funded some of his loss, some of his legal costs, and so on.
So, he hasn't really had to shoulder much of this himself. He's had donors around the country actually paying for some of this. So, the person at the center of all those lies hasn't really had to pay those costs in the same way.
TAPPER: Again, defamation, $16 million apiece. Emotional distress, $20 million a piece. Punitive damages, $75 million.
Let's bring in CNN senior legal analyst, Elie Honig, to explain this all.
Elie, for those of us who are not attorneys, if you could explain the difference between defamation money, emotional distress money and punitive damage money.
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Sure, Jake. So, first of all, anyway you cut this, up this is a massive verdict. This is a real statement by the jury.
So, first of all, when you talk about defamation damages, the totals out to about $16 million for each of these plaintiffs, that means the damage to their reputation, what they're trying to do with this numbers is make them whole. It's impossible obviously to put a scientific number on this. That's what juries are for, and they've judge that the amount of damage done to the reputation of these two women is $16 million each.
Then you get into emotional distress. Again, there is not a scientific formula for how you equate emotional distress to dollars. Again, that's what juries do. And here, they decided that that is worth about $20 million for each of these plaintiffs.
So if you take what we call together all those numbers, what we call compensatory damages, meaning how much are these women do in order to make them whole again, essentially, to pay them back. And that total snow to about $72 million.
Now, the second big category is punitive damages. And those awards total $75 million. Punitive damages are different. They're for a different purpose. They are to punish, they are to punish Rudy Giuliani for extraordinarily egregious conduct. They're intended to send a message to Rudy Giuliani, and the general public.
And I think that's exactly what the jury did here. When you think about the inequities in this case, when you think about an extraordinarily powerful, remorseless liar like Rudy Giuliani, compared to these women who are civil servants, they never signed up for this, their lives were turned over, and I think that's why you see such a high number here from the jury.
TAPPER: It's pretty astounding.
Now, Elie, I've often seen big jury numbers like these whittled down in appeals. Do you think that's likely to happen?
HONIG: Well, Rudy Giuliani certainly has the right to appeal, and will appeal. The main way these numbers often get whittled down is on the punitive damages side of this. Sometimes you'll see a jury come back with a compensatory damages amount, and the punitive damage amount is four or five, ten times as much.
Appeals courts don't like that. Appeals courts are going to look at the reasonableness of it and the ratio. Generally speaking, we have about a 1 to 1 ratio here. We have above 70 some million, $72 or 73 million on the compensatory side, $75 million on the punitive side.
Generally speaking, appeals courts are okay with a 1 to 1 ratio or so. If the punitive damages had been say, doubled compensatory, that I think you might be in a situation where in appeals court could knock it down. But, yes, appeals courts to have the ability to not down these numbers. They do fairly often. But given that the equality of the numbers here, and I think given the strength of the evidence, I think the plaintiffs are going to have a good argument to uphold this verdict on appeal.
TAPPER: And just to remind folks, I want to play what Giuliani said about just a piece of what he said about Shaye Moss and Ruby Freeman, remember their mother and daughter, way back in 2020, to the Georgia state house, the defame -- some of the defamatory comments he said.
And remember, they -- their behavior, their conduct, Shaye Moss and Ruby Freeman has been vouched for, not only by Gabe Sterling and Brad Raffensperger, Republican election officials in Georgia, but also Donald Trump's ownJustice Department investigated the allegations were being made, and found absolutely no malfeasance. Any told that to Donald Trump.
So I want to play some of what he said back in 2020. And then, after that, some of what he said earlier this week, when he was standing by these same lies. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: How can they say there's no fraud? Look at that woman, look at or taking the ballots out. Look at her scurrying around with the ballots. Nobody in the room, hiding around. They look like this -- they look like they're passing out dope. Not just ballots.
But everything I said about them is true.
REPORTER: Do you regret what you did to Ruby Freeman?
GIULIANI: Of course I don't regret. I told the truth. They were engaged in changing votes.
REPORTER: There's no proof of that.
GIULIANI: Oh, you're damn right there is. Stay tuned.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
TAPPER: You're damn right there is, stay tuned. We have been staying tuned since November 2020. There is no proof of any of this. All of this has been lies. And jury after jury, election board after election board, has said that.
First of all, Elie Honig, I have to say, saying it looks like these two African American are sharing dope is -- I wouldn't even call it a dog whistle. It is a bull horn from Rudy Giuliani. I mean, it's basically engaging in the worst kind of racist sleaze imaginable.
But beyond that, how on earth can he go before cameras three years later, and still be standing by this insanity?
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Jake, that moment, earlier this week, when Rudy Giuliani repeated his defamation of the same women, it was just astonishing. I really never seen anything like that whatsoever. It, obviously, makes no sense. It's completely self destructive legally.
And just in the broader terms, it's just disgraceful conduct by Rudy Giuliani. I thought when he headed into this hearing, -- look, Rudy and his lawyer conceded, they didn't even fight the fact that he was liable for defamation. They said we're just going to have a trial on the damages amount. I thought, naively I guess, that the strategy would be for Rudy to sort of make amends, to say, look, I did not intend for this to get out of hands, I was caught up in the moment, maybe show remorse, or contrition.
Instead he does 180 degrees the opposite. We should've seen that coming I guess. By the, way if you want to know why the jury decided with a $75 million dollar punitive damages, I think those comments outside the courthouse had a lot to do with it.
TAPPER: Would the jury have known about it? Those comments?
HONIG: Sure. I think it's a fair play. His lawyer was actually confronted. The judge at one point said, how do you square what he said just outside here with his position here in court?
The lawyer had nothing. The lawyer said, I can't square, your honor. He used to be a good man. And I hope the jury judges him as such, which is sort of irrelevant, if he was a good man 25 years ago.
So, yeah, I think this is absolutely a big factor in this case.
TAPPER: Now, Rudy Giuliani was not the only one defaming these two women.
Oh, here's Rudy Giuliani, some live pictures of Rudy Giuliani looking at his phone. He is being followed by some people who are obviously not fans of his. That is his attorney.
Rudy Giuliani, having been delivered over almost 100 -- let's listen in. I don't regret a damn he just said.
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: There's very little I can say right now. I have to analyze this. Obviously, possibly, will move for a new trial. Certainly, we will appeal.
The absurdity of the number, merely underscores the absurdity of the entire proceeding, where I have not been allowed to offer one single piece of evidence in defense, of which I have a lot. So I am quite confident when this case gets before a fair tribunal, it'll be river so quickly, it will make your head spin. And the absurd number that just came in, it will help that actually.
REPORTER: Why did you choose not to --
REPORTER: Why do you think it was unfair?
GIULIANI: I cannot go into the details. I did not testify because the judge made it clear that if I made any mistake, or did anything wrong, she was considering contempt, and this judge does have a reputation for putting people in jail. And I thought, honestly, it wouldn't do any good.
REPORTER: Do you still believe what you said about these two women in the wake of 2020 election was truthful?
REPORTER: Do you still believe these claims?
GIULIANI: I have -- I have no doubt that my comments were made, and they were support-able, and our support-able today. I just did not have an opportunity to present the evidence that we offered. Did you notice, we are not allowed to put in one piece of evidence in defense?
Do you also realize that liability is not based on any trial, my ability is based on her disagreement with me on discovery, which is absurd.
REPORTER: So, why don't you take the stand? GIULIANI: Because I believe the judge was threatening me with the
strong possibility that I would be held in contempt, or that I would even be put in jail. It didn't seem like it was going to do much to persuade anybody. And it could give her what she seemed to be threatening.
REPORTER: Do you believe the women's testimony?
GIULIANI: That's all I have to say. I have, I have --
REPORTER: Do you have any regrets?
REPORTER: Do you have any regrets about some of the comments that the women received?
GIULIANI: Well, of course. The comments they received that I had nothing to do with. Those comments are abominable. They are deplorable. No defense to.
But I received comments like that every day, different kinds of things. I've represented clients who have gotten that from the other side. This is a terrible part of our political system.
Republicans, Democrats, liberals and conservatives all get that. My comments weren't that. And I think I was also a very unfair part of it because my comments had no connection at all to those. There were thousands of things in the press about this, of which mine were a small amount. There is no way to say that my comments connected to that. But that's going to be part of what we'll get to litigate in a fair court.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, everybody. Thank you guys. [inaudible]
TAPPER: Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Time Magazine's 2001 person of the year, Rudy Giuliani, has just been ordered to pay almost $150 million in -- for emotional distress, defamation, and punitive damage to two election workers, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, for -- you know, just smearing them, just dragging their names through the mud. And he continues to stand by his lies.
Elie honing, let's go through some of what he just said. First of, all obviously, Mr. Giuliani said that he was going to seek a new trial, or, appeal. I'm not sure that he has any basis for a new trial.
Do you have any thoughts as to why he might be able to get a new trial?
HONIG: He's not going to be able to get a new trial, Jake. He can ask everyone does. But there was nothing that I saw wrong with that trial.
And as we said before, he has the right to appeal. He certainly will appeal. And there's a chance he gets those numbers knock down somewhat. But I have to say this, if I can do a quick fact check of the pure nonsense we just heard.
TAPPER: Okay, we only have an hour and 23 minutes. So you can't fact check everything that Rudy Giuliani just said. But give us the low lights.
HONIG: I'll pick the low lights.
First of, already said he was not permitted to put in any evidence in his own defense. Completely false. In fact, Rudy Giuliani admitted that he was liable. He gave up his right to have that portion of the trial, an unusual move. But he said, yes, he and his lawyer put in paper saying, we're not contesting, this was defamation. That was his own choice.
Then, in the trial we just had about damages, he had ample opportunity to put in evidence in his own defense. He did put in some evidence in his own defense. He just chose not to take the stand, which I guess brings me to point two.
He came up with this convoluted explanation, that the reason he didn't take the stand is he was afraid the judge was menacing him with threats of contempt and prison. I mean, that's all in his mind. The judge said nothing to indicate she was going to imprison Rudy Giuliani. That is just, just a complete fantasy world.
And finally, one point that Rudy Giuliani, said he, said while they have these threats, but I get these threats every day. Republicans, Democrats, people get the starts every day. First, well that's not true, the threats these women receiver particularly violent, racist, and violent.
But the other thing is, Rudy Giuliani is a public figure. He puts himself out there. You and I, Jake, put ourselves out there. It's okay, people want to criticize us and attack us.
But Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss did not make themselves public figures. They were civil servants. They were civilians. They were counting votes in a humble way as servants of the county.
They did not ask for this. They didn't ask for one of the most powerful, famous people in the country to come after them and unleashed masses at them. So, I'll leave it at those three top things that I want to address for now.
TAPPER: And let's also just underline the fact that if Rudy Giuliani had any evidence to back up anything that he was claiming, he would have presented it right now.
He would've presented it back in 2020, or 2021, or 2022, or earlier this year. There is no evidence, because they didn't do anything wrong. And just to go over this really stunningly high verdict, defamation, damages that Rudy Giuliani is now ordered to pay to Ruby Freeman, $16,000,171. Shaye Moss was awarded $16,998,000, $16,998,000. So, that's approximately $16 million each.
Both women, Freeman and Moss have been awarded a piece, $20 million for emotional distress. And then on top of that, and if you do the math, that's roughly $36 million each for each woman, which is $72 million total. On top of that, the jury awarded them $75 million in punitive damages, punitive.
And that is a signal to other liars out there, election liars out there who want to go and defame people. You can say what you want to do. You can say what you want, but there might be a hefty price tag.
Let's go to CNN's Jessica Schneider who's been covering the straw for us.
Jessica, what do you make of the fact that these numbers are hundred million dollars higher than what their attorneys were asking for?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: I think, Jake, it really speaks to how really riveting the testimony was from both Ruby Moss I'm sorry -- Shaye Moss and Ruby Freeman, mother and daughter. They were on the stands for a considerable amount of time. This was just a four-day trial. They were the witnesses in this trial.
They said things, Jake, that we didn't hear during the January 6 Committee hearings. During the committee hearings we heard in broad strokes how all of Rudy Giuliani's comments upended their life. But in this trial, we heard specifics.
I mean, Ruby Freeman, the mother, she talked about how she was getting so many phone calls, and so many voicemails that at one point, she went to the police station while she was at the police station, she had the police officer, the detective who was handling her case answer the phone while she was in that interview. And start documenting what people were saying to her.
They played at least seven different voicemails during this trial. It was just astonishing to hear the harassment, the death threats that they got. How they had to go into hiding. And then, of course, how their reputations were harmed, and that's how this money comes in.
They aren't able, or weren't able to get jobs. They left their positions as election workers, and in some case weren't able to get jobs when they applied things completely unrelated.
So, Jake, I really think that this eight-person jury in this unanimous decision to award $148 million, they listen very carefully to all of this very riveting and disturbing testimony from these two women, who, now Rudy Giuliani will have to pay. Of course, that's another issue. We don't even know if Rudy Giuliani will have the money.
TAPPER: Yeah, and just for those wonder why they weren't able to get jobs afterwards, one can only imagine the prejudice against them. Georgia is obviously a state that is evenly divided politically. Even if there are individuals who believe that they were innocent, there is also a risk to the safety of your other employees if you hire people who are continually getting death threats, because of former president of the United States, and Rudy Giuliani are continuing to defame them and lie about them. That is an actual liability for the protection of other workers that you might have in your office.
I want to -- I want to bring in Katelyn -- bring back Katelyn Polantz.
Katelyn, what are you hearing from inside the courtroom in terms of what the reaction was by the plaintiffs, by the jury, by Rudy Giuliani, whatever color you have?
KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE AND CRIME REPORTER: Right. So, what we've heard from our eyes and ears in the courtroom is that there was a sense of relief, and jubilation that came over the courtroom after the verdict was read here. Ruby Freeman, I'm told, closed her eyes, and seemed to be very relieved as the numbers were being read.
Rudy Giuliani appeared to be writing down what the numbers was throughout the trial. He's had a laptop, iPad in front of him, with a stylus and he's been reading news, highlighting things, he was writing down those numbers in the courtroom as the verdict came in.
And then another detail is that the judge, apparently, was so taken aback by the size of these numbers, that she stumbled as she was reading them out loud. This is not a judge that stumbles very often when she speaks. But that is what happened when these were red.
And then, of course, hugs among the legal team, among the two women. That is something that we have seen. They've been quite emotive throughout the court proceedings, and the trial.
At the end of every day, the attorneys will hug both Shaye Moss and Ruby Freeman. They've even said on the stand, they like their attorneys very much. They clearly formed a relationship with them, where they are comfortable talking about how deeply distressing all of these episodes were.
And so, that is what happened in the courtroom, hugs all around. This isn't the first time they have received some sort of outcome in a case like this. They previously settled for an undisclosed sum with the news outlet OAN. But we don't know how much they were able to get there. This clearly is quite a sizeable award, and a message that is being sent to these two women, that they should be able to repair their reputation.
That is what the jury found here, awarding them exactly what was asked for to prepare repair that reputation.
TAPPER: Yeah. Well, $148 million is $100 million more than they asked for.
Katelyn Polantz, standby. I want to bring in Kaitlan Collins. Kaitlan, what is astounding to me
-- just for people to know, we are waiting for the plaintiffs to come and speak to cameras. And when, these are their attorneys. So let's listen in to see -- okay, let's just listen in and see what they have to say.
Kaitlan will bring you in a minute. The plaintiffs are approaching the microphones. They got their day in court, and they presumably feel like they got justice. So, let's listen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks, everyone, for coming out. Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss are going to give a brief statement, and they won't be taking any questions afterward. Thank you.
WANDREA "SHAYE" MOSS, GEORGE ELECTION WORKER: Good evening, everyone. My name is Shaye Moss. I spent ten years as an election worker in Fulton County, Georgia. The lies Rudy Giuliani told about me and my mommy after the 2020 presidential election have changed our lives.
And the past few years has been devastating. The flame that Giuliani lit with those lies passed so many others to keep the flame blazing changed every aspect of our lives. Our homes, our family, our work, our sense of safety, our mental health, and we are still working to rebuild.
As we move forward, and continue to seek justice, our greatest wish is that no one, no election worker, or voter, or school board member, or anyone else ever experiences anything like what we went through. You all matter. And you are all important.
We hope no one ever has to fight so hard just to get your name back. We are very grateful to the jury. For taking the time out of their busy lives to do their civic duty, to listen to everything that we've been going through. I know I won't be able to retire from my job with accounting, like my grandmother did, but I hope by us taking these steps, these very big steps towards justice, that I can make her just as proud. Thank you.
RUBY FREEMAN, GEORGIA ELECTION WORRKER: Good evening everyone. I am Lady Ruby. Today is a good day. A jury stood witness to what Rudy Giuliani did to me and my daughter. And they held him accountable. And for that, I'm thankful.
Today is not the end of the road. We still have work to do. Rudy Giuliani was not the only one who spread lies about us. And others must be held accountable to. But that is tomorrow's work.
For now, I want people to understand this. Money will never solve all of my problems. I can never move back into the house that I called home. I will always have to be careful about where I go, and who I choose to share my name with. I miss my home, I missed my neighbors, and I miss my name.
I've heard some of you. Don't be sad for me. Don't waste your time being angry at those who did this to me and my daughter. We are more than congruous, pray for us as we continue to fight the good fight of faith.
I tell my attorneys, often, my friends say that God knew to get this assignment to, because if they had been them, they would be able to go through this.
God chose me to go through this because he knows that I will tell everyone who's path I crossed about Jesus. I'm strong and my faith shall never waver. From day one, I said now faith is the substance of things hoped on, and the evidence of things not seen.
If you remember one thing I say today, remember this, faith is what carried us through the most difficult years of my life and faith will carry you through hardships that you face in life.
Understand that the devil is a liar. He is defeated, and no weapon formed against you shall prosper. Trust that God will keep and protect you. Believe that right makes might, because it does.
I thank God that I'm not intimidated by no one of their lies. Give thanks that injustice always surrenders in the glorious kingdom of God. And that he will always lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace -- peace that surpasses all understanding. Thank you.
REPORTER: Thank you.
REPORTER: May I ask you a question? What message does is verdict sent to the country?
TAPPER: All right, we want to see if they would take the bait from that reporter who tried to get an answer, as to what message the verdict sends to the country. Looks like they were contemplating answering it, but their lawyers whisk them away.
Shaye Moss and Lady Ruby, as she identified herself, her mother, Ruby Freeman, now have the benefit of a $148 million verdict in their favor for the lies and smears from Rudy Giuliani, during the 2020 election. It turns out that that campaign was the negative campaign, the lies, in the smears about the 2020 election is proved to be rather expensive for Mr. Giuliani, for Mr. Murdoch over at News Corps. And we'll see if there's still plenty of other verdicts to come, one presumes.
Let me bring back Kaitlan Collins.
Kaitlan, what's astounding in all of this beyond just the abject cruelty and audacity of Rudy Giuliani, is the fact that he's still sticking by these lies, for which there's absolutely no evidence, claiming that there will be evidence. It's three years later. There is none.
That's the reason we haven't seen any. It was looked into by Republican election officials in Georgia. It was looked into by his own Department of Justice officials during that period of November, December 2020. There is no evidence that either of these women did anything untoward at all. And, yet this lie about the 2020 election is the animating force of
Donald Trump's reelection campaign.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, and Rudy Giuliani undermining his own defense this week as they were talking about these women, and what they try to minimize what damages are going to be. And then Giuliani would go outside court and stand by what he said about those two women that you just heard from there.
And I'm just struck by what Rudy said there, Jake, saying don't seek vengeance or whatnot on their behalf, talking about how they -- their reaction to this. I think people look at that number and think, that is a massive number, one. They're never going to see that money, we know that, because Rudy Giuliani can't pay that. His legal troubles, his financial troubles are well-documented. He can't even pay's own attorney who is suing him for unpaid legal fees.
But what Ruby Freeman said there at the end, Jake, that no matter what this number is that they got today, that she will never be able to get her home that she lived in, I should note, for 20 years before she was forced to leave it because of threats, not just what Rudy Giuliani was saying, Donald Trump, the sitting president at the time went after these women in his speech on January 6. He accused them of fraudulently inserting ballots in the state of Georgia, which, obviously, Jake, as we know, he was watching very closely on that day.
And so, I think if you look at this number today, $148 million over that, that Rudy Giuliani has been ordered to pay.
But who is at the heart of this is also the current Republican front runner for president. I mean, that is why Rudy Giuliani did what he did. Yes, he's own person, he's own agency, he makes his own decisions. But he acted, you know, in line with what his former client -- his former boss wanted him to do in this sense.
And that was, you know, seeking out these two women, accusing them of passing drugs, when they are passing just a mint back and forth. It speaks to that. I think it does go back to what we're seeing play out right now, which is that the person who is really at the center of all this is still someone who could very well be the Republican nominee for president, who, based on poll numbers, is going to be a potentially competitive Republican nominee for president.
And I think that's what strikes at the heart of this, when you hear Ruby Freeman talking about what she can't get back, in an amount of damage is rewarded by a jury.
TAPPER: Yeah. It's remarkable that even though Rudy Giuliani has been ordered to pay $148 million here, as you know, that's -- he doesn't have $148 million, although he does have some properties, who knows what ultimately he will have to turn over.
And even though Rupert Murdoch, and News Corps had to pay up more than five times that to Dominion Voting, and there still several other defamation suits out there against the various liars of the election 2020 nonsense. Both Fox and Rudy Giuliani remain loyal to the individual whose lives have now cost them tens, hundreds of millions of dollars.
COLLINS: Yeah, I was talking to Andrew Kirtzman last night, who wrote the book on Rudy Giuliani, who has covered him for three decades, from when he was, as you were saying earlier, on the cover of "Time Magazine", you know was a hero wherever he went, certainly here in New York City. And to where he is now, he was saying, even despite all this in Georgia, where Rudy Giuliani is still facing an indictment there, that he is going to ever turn on the former president. That he never be, in any way, a cooperative witness against former president, that he does still have the loyalty.
And the thing, Jake, that's remarkable about this, it's never surprising, but it's always there covering Trump, the loyalty is a one-way street. I mean, we broke the story here that when Rudy Giuliani flew down to Mar-a-Lago, it was pleading with Trump, both of them, to try to get Trump to pay for his legal fees, because he cannot pay them. Yes, he does have properties, he's selling his apartment here in New York I believe for about $6 million. But that's obviously a drop in the bucket of what he is going to have to pay, when he is still paying, going to have an attorney in the state of Georgia.
And Trump wouldn't pay it. He paid a small portion of a fee that basically was to store records, but that was it. It was only a few hundred thousand dollars. He appeared at a fund-raiser for Giuliani's legal fees. But he himself is not paying for Rudy Giuliani's legal fees, which has been, obviously the sore subject between the two of them.
And I can't even imagine how he's going to react to this number today, a staggering amount, of over $148 million. And Rudy Giuliani has been ordered to pay, that he cannot pay.
And. Jake, he will not be able to pay, it is very clear. I don't think they're expecting it. But it is the point to the fact that he did tell these lies about these women. He ruined their lives. And a jury, the argument from his -- from their attorney was basically, you're sending a message, not just to Rudy Giuliani, with how much you decide here. But you're sending a message to anyone who can try and do what Rudy Giuliani has done here to these two women.
And clearly, you saw how the jury spoke with what this number is today.
TAPPER: All right. Kaitlan Collins, thanks so much.
Let's go to Ken Frydman. He was spokesperson for Rudy Giuliani's 1993 mayoral campaign. He was also a consulting producer for CNN's documentary called "Giuliani: What Happened To America's Mayor?", which is still a really good question.
Ken, so Giuliani has been ordered to pay over $148 million in damages for defamation, for emotional distress, for punitive damages. What do you think, is it a fair verdict? KEN FRYDMAN, SPOKESMAN, 1993 GIULIANI MAYORAL CAMPAIGN: Oh, it
definitely sends a message, it sets a precedent for the other civil cases, the defamation cases. They send a very clear message today.
As we've said, as we all know, he is not going to be able to afford that, even if they garnished his wages, you know, he -- but it is vindication for the plaintiffs, certainly. And, you know, we reap what we sow, you know, to quote a biblical passage which I think they would -- they would appreciate it.
I disagree that with my friend Andrew Kirtzman. Rudy is not going to jail for Donald Trump, unlike Allen Weisselberg and Michael Cohen. He knows things. And Trump knows he knows things. And Bernie Kerik knows things.
So, you know, I say stay tuned.