Rudy Giuliani files for bankruptcy after being ordered to pay $148m to election workers he defamed

Rudy Giuliani has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy days after he was ordered to pay more than $148m to a mother-daughter pair of election workers he defamed in the volatile aftermath of the 2020 presidential election, underscoring the downfall of a man once hailed as “America’s Mayor”.

His filing in New York comes one day after the federal judge overseeing his defamation case ordered him to “immediately” pay the women, pointing to his history as an “uncooperative litigant” and concerns that he will try to “conceal his assets” during any appeals.

Last week, an eight-member jury unanimously agreed that Donald Trump’s former attorney owes Ruby Freeman and her daughter Shaye Moss $16.2m and $16.99m respectively in compensatory damages, an additional $20m each for intentional infliction of emotional distress, and a further $75m in punitive damages.

Judge Howell had already found Mr Giuliani liable for defamation in a damning pretrial ruling earlier this year. A four-day trial in Washington DC sought to determine how much he owed.

Ms Moss, who was a clerical worker in a county election office, and Ms Freeman, her mother, who had taken a temporary job to help count ballots, were subject to relentless abuse, threats and racist attacks in the wake of the 2020 election.

During their emotional testimony on the witness stand last week, they detailed the credible threats, fears and overwhelming anxiety they have experienced in the months after the former mayor of New York City falsely claimed that they wheeled a suitcase loaded with fraudulent ballots into a vote-counting centre in Georgia and then used a flash drive to manipulate the results.

His bankruptcy filing on Thursday lists debts of as much as $500m and assets between $1m and $10m.

Asked in the filing about the nature of his debts, he simply wrote: “Lawsuits.”

In addition to the more than $148m owed to Ms Freeman and Ms Moss, Mr Giuliani owes roughly $1m in taxes and more than $3.5m to law firms.

“The filing should be a surprise to no one,” his spokesperson Ted Goodman said in a statement.

“No person could have reasonably believed that Mayor Rudy Giuliani would be able to pay such a high punitive amount,” he added. “Chapter 11 will afford Mayor Giuliani the opportunity and time to pursue an appeal, while providing transparency for his finances under the supervision of the bankruptcy court, to ensure all creditors are treated equally and fairly throughout the process.”

In a federal court filing this week, the women asked the court to immediately enforce the verdict against Mr Giuliani, fearing he “will use whatever time he has to alienate or dissipate what assets are available to satisfy even a small portion” of the judgment awarded to them.

In her order on Wednesday, US District Judge Beryl Howell – who has been repeatedly frustrated by Mr Giuliani’s attempts to evade evidence throughout the case – did just that.

Mr Giuliani’s claims that he has experienced “financial difficulties” are “difficult to square” against his hiring of a spokesperson “who accompanied him daily to trial,” the judge wrote.

The case adds to a growing pile of debts and legal obstacles, including a pending lawsuit from voting systems company Smartmatic, a lawsuit from Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden, and a sprawling criminal case in Atlanta, where he is charged alongside the former president and more than a dozen others for joining a “criminal enterprise” to unlawfully overturn Georgia’s election results.

A pressure campaign from Mr Trump’s allies against Ms Freeman and Ms Moss is key evidence in that case.

Mr Giuliani also is an unnamed and unindicted co-conspirator in the federal election conspiracy case against Mr Trump for his attempts to reverse his loss to Joe Biden.