Former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani files for bankruptcy protection

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Rudy Giuliani filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in New York on Thursday, citing debts that include a nearly $150 million recent civil judgment for defaming two Georgia election workers while serving as a lawyer for former President Donald Trump.

The filing by Giuliani came a day after a federal judge in Washington, D.C., ordered him to begin paying election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss monetary damages, and three days after they filed a new suit seeking to bar him from again defaming the mother and daughter.

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan filing legally pauses, for now, the $146 million defamation judgment against the former New York City mayor that resulted from a jury verdict last week.

Giuliani, while representing Trump in efforts to reverse his loss on the heels of the 2020 election, falsely accused Freeman and Moss of ballot fraud. The claims sparked death threats against them.

Their attorney, Michael Gottlieb, in a statement about Giuliani’s bankruptcy petition, said, “This maneuver is unsurprising, and it will not succeed in discharging Mr. Giuliani’s debt to Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss.”

Giuliani’s filing estimates he has assets worth between $1 million and $10 million and estimated current liabilities of between $100 million and $500 million. A worksheet in the filing lists his current actual debts at $151.8 million.

While the defamation judgment is the lion’s share of that total, Giuliani also declared he has nearly $1 million in debt to the IRS and New York State Department of Taxation and Finance for unpaid taxes, and that he owes several million dollars in debts to various law firms.

Giuliani was sued in September by his former lawyer Robert Costello for $1.36 million in unpaid legal fees dating back to late 2019.

The list of nonsecured creditors in the new filing includes plaintiffs currently suing him, among them the Dominion and Smartmatic election machine companies, President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden, and former Giuliani employee Noelle Dunphy, who accuses him of sexual harassment and wage theft.

Filers use Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code to reorganize their debts and come up with a plan to pay their creditors.

His bankruptcy lawyers in a statement Thursday said, “The filing should be a surprise to no one.”

“No person could have reasonably believed that Mayor Giuliani would be able to pay such a high punitive amount” from the defamation case, the attorneys, Heath Berger and Gary Fischoff said.

“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,” the lawyers said.

In addition to serving two terms as New York mayor, Giuliani is a former Department of Justice official and former Manhattan U.S. Attorney.

Giuliani was in the final months of his mayoralty on Sept. 11, 2001, when a terror attack leveled the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan.

After being widely lauded for his leadership of the city on the heels of that attack, he made millions of dollars from consulting work and made a failed bid for the White House in 2008.

In recent years, Giuliani has been criticized, sued, and prosecuted for actions during his work as Trump’s lawyer. Since late 2020 he has made false claims that Trump lost to Biden only as a result of widespread ballot fraud.

Earlier this year, Giuliani, Trump, and 17 other people were charged in Georgia court with crimes related to an alleged conspiracy in their efforts to undo his defeat in that state in the 2020 election. Giuliani has pleaded not guilty in that case, as have Trump and most of the other defendants.

In July, the disciplinary board of the D.C. Bar Association recommended that Giuliani be stripped of his law license as a result of his false election fraud claims.

Giuliani’s law license in New York is suspended due to those claims.

— Additional reporting by CNBC’s Jim Forkin.

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