By Andrew Goudsward
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The same day a crowd of Donald Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, another mob gathered at the home of former Georgia election worker Ruby Freeman, she testified on Wednesday.
The group in Georgia, far smaller than the crowd at the Capitol, was searching for Freeman after allies of the Republican then-president falsely accused her of helping to steal the 2020 election and referred to her by name as a “professional vote scammer.”
Freeman was not home at the time because the FBI warned her that she should flee for her own safety, she told a jury in the third day of the civil defamation trial of former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
“When I saw it on television – January 6 – I remember thinking, ‘It could have been me,’” Freeman testified. “If the FBI hadn’t told me to leave, that could have been me.”
Freeman, who worked as a temporary election worker in Fulton County, and her daughter Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, are suing Giuliani for defamation claiming their reputations were destroyed by Giuliani’s false claims that the pair engaged in election fraud following the election.
Moss testified on Tuesday about the emotional toll the attacks took on her and her family.
A judge has already ruled that Giuliani is liable for defamation and other claims. The jury will decide how much he must pay in damages.
A lawyer for Giuliani has argued that his actions played a minimal role in the harm the two women endured.
Freeman, who is Black, said she began receiving racist messages and voicemails shortly after the video began spreading in December 2020.
“I was terrorized. I was scared,” she said, fearing that “people are coming to kill me.”
The vitriol rose again when leaked audio of Trump’s January 2021 phone call with Georgia’s top elections official, Brad Raffensperger, was published.
During the call, which drew headlines for Trump’s urging of Raffensperger to “find” votes to help him overturn his defeat in the key battleground state, Trump also referenced Freeman by name and repeated the false allegations against her.
Giuliani is expected to take the witness stand on Thursday.
(This story has been refiled to fix the spelling of ‘scared’ in paragraph 10)
(Reporting by Andrew Goudsward; Editing by Scott Malone and Alistair Bell)