They didn’t know it at the time, but Dec. 3, 2020, was the start of a nightmare for Wandrea Moss and her mother, Ruby Freeman.
Both were election workers in Atlanta, and that was the day Rudy Giuliani — ex-New York mayor and adviser to former President Donald Trump — testified to a state Senate committee that Georgia election officials had counted illegal ballots to steal the presidency for Joe Biden.
The allegations were quickly debunked by government officials and the media, but they still reverberated through right-wing media outlets.
Later that day, the Gateway Pundit, a St. Louis-based site run by brothers Jim and Joe Hoft, identified Freeman as one of the election workers accused of producing and counting 18,000 hidden, fraudulent ballots from a suitcase.
“What’s Up, Ruby,” the site’s headline read that day. “BREAKING: Crooked Operative Filmed Pulling Out Suitcases of Ballots in Georgia IS IDENTIFIED.”
A month after the initial allegations, Trump himself singled out Freeman by name in a call with Georgia officials pressing them to alter the state’s election results. The Gateway Pundit bragged in an article about the call that the site was “first to identify” Freeman and Moss in the “suitcase fraud scandal that was caught on tape and went viral online.”
The former president’s supporters went on the attack.
Freeman and Moss say they were almost immediately bombarded with threats of violence, many tinged with racial slurs. Under advice from the FBI, Freeman says she had to flee her home. On Jan. 6, 2021 — the day of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol — Freeman said her home was surrounded by Trump supporters shouting through bullhorns.
Moss says strangers tried to get into her grandmother’s home to make a “citizen’s arrest.”
Gateway Pundit would go on to publish numerous stories about Freeman and Moss, with headlines like: “WHERE’S BILL BARR? — We Got Your Voter Fraud AG Barr — It’s On Video and They Attempted to Steal Georgia with It! — HOW ABOUT A FEW ARRESTS?”
“It’s turned my life upside down,” Moss testified last year to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Freeman and Moss say the Hofts never responded to a letter demanding they retract and take down the stories. So in December 2021, the women filed a lawsuit in St. Louis Circuit Court against The Gateway Pundit for defamation and emotional distress.
It’s scheduled for a jury trial on May 9.