Rudy Giuliani has admitted under oath that he made no effort to verify some of the central claims he made about the alleged theft of the 2020 election from Donald Trump – even saying that it was “not his job” to do so.
In video footage obtained by CNN, a lawyer deposing Mr Giuliani as part of a lawsuit against him asks whether or not he checked that the information he was supposedly given was accurate, specifically referring to the bizarre conspiracy theory that Venezuelan connections interfered with software supplied by Dominion Voting Systems.
“We had a report that the heads of Dominion and Smartmatic,” Mr Giuliani said, “somewhere in the mid-teens, you know 2013-14, whatever, went down to Venezuela for a get-to-know meeting with [Venezuelan President Nicolás] Maduro so they could demonstrate to Maduro the kind of vote fixing they did for [Hugo] Chavez.”
Pressed on how he knew this, Mr Giuliani replied: “That’s what I was told … Before the press conference I was told about it.” However, he also asserted that it should not fall to him to ascertain whether what he was told was true.
“Sometimes I go and look myself when stuff comes up. This time, I didn’t have the time to do it … It’s not my job in a fast-moving case to go out and investigate every piece of evidence that’s given to me. Otherwise you’re never gonna write a story, you never come to a conclusion.”
For her part, Ms Powell – an attorney who has propagated some of the most unhinged conspiracy theories about the election, including to audiences of QAnon believers – said that correcting the record about false claims she herself had made “didn’t seem to be a material part of the inquiry”.
Mr Giuliani was being deposed as part of a lawsuit brought by former Dominion Voting Systems executive Eric Coomer, who alleges that Mr Giuliani, Ms Powell and others in the Trump circle defamed him in the course of their campaign to overturn the election results. Dominion is suing Mr Giuliani and Ms Powell separately, demanding $1.3bn in damages from each on the grounds that they destroyed the value of its business.
Reacting to the deposition video, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said Mr Giuliani’s admission could be “disastrous for the media outlets, including Fox News, that put [his claims] out uncritically”.
“In order to win a libel, the plaintiffs have to show a reckless disregard for the truth,” Mr Toobin said on New Day. “That deposition, to me, looks like the definition for reckless disregard for the truth.”
Mr Giuliani, who served as personal attorney to Mr Trump during the latter years of his presidency, faces other serious legal risks, chief among them a federal criminal investigation into his dealings in Ukraine.
According to recent reports, New York prosecutors have compiled evidence that they claim implicates Mr Giuliani in illegal quid-pro-quo dealings with Ukrainian authorities and business interests. His outreach to Ukrainian authorities to investigate members of the Biden family was a core part of the case that led to Mr Trump’s first impeachment.