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Georgia Poll Workers Falsely Targeted by Trump as “Scammers” Faced Racist Harassment, Lived in Fear

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In some of the most dramatic testimony from the fourth hearing of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, Shaye Moss, a Black election worker in Georgia, and her mother Ruby Freeman described how their lives were forever changed in December of 2020 when Trump’s top campaign lawyer Rudy Giuliani claimed they manipulated ballots to rig the election outcome in the state, which was among those he had lost. They faced severe harassment, racism and death threats from Trump supporters and had to be relocated by the FBI for safety. “I don’t want anyone knowing my name. … I don’t want to go anywhere. I second-guess everything that I do,” said Moss, who, like her former colleagues, is no longer an election worker in Fulton County. “Do you know how it feels to have the president of the United States to target you?” said Freeman in taped testimony. “The president of the United States is supposed to represent every American — not to target one.”

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Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. I’m Amy Goodman.

Some of the most dramatic testimony of Tuesday’s hearing of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol came from Shaye Moss, a former Georgia state election worker, who described threats against her mother and grandmother during questioning by California Congessmember Adam Schiff. She was joined by her mother, Ruby Freeman, who testified earlier to the committee, her comments featured during the questioning. This is Schiff and Shaye Moss.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF: How did you become aware — how did you first become aware that Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lawyer, was accusing you and your mother of a crime?

SHAYE MOSS: I was at work, like always, and the former chief, Mr. Jones, asked me to come to his office. And when I went to his office, the former director, Mr. Barron, was in there, and they showed me a video on their computer. It was just like a very short clip of us working at State Farm, and it had someone on the video, like, talking over the video, just saying that we were doing things that we weren’t supposed to do, just lying throughout the video. And that’s when I first found out about it.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF: And were there social media posts that they showed you responding to those false claims?

SHAYE MOSS: Well, when I saw the video, of course, the first thing that I said was, like, “Why? Why is — why are they doing this? What’s going on?” And they, you know, just told me that Trump and his allies were not satisfied with the outcome of the election, and they were getting a lot of threats and being harassed online and asked me, you know, have I been receiving anything, and I need to check on my mom.

And I told them I — you know, I was, like, “Where? Where have they — you know, where have you been getting these threats? I don’t believe I have any.” And Mr. Jones told me, like, they’re attacking his Facebook. And I don’t really use Facebook. I have one, so I went to the Facebook app. And I’m just kind of panicky at this point, because this has never happened to me, and my mom is involved. I’m like her only child. So, I’m just asking, like, “Where are the messages? All I see is the feeds. Like, how do you get to the messages?” And he said it’s another icon on your phone that says “Messenger.” And I went to that icon, and it was just a lot of horrible things there.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF: And those horrible things, did they include threats?

SHAYE MOSS: Yes, a lot of threats, wishing death upon me, telling me that, you know, I’ll be in jail with my mother, and saying things like, “Be glad it’s 2020 and not 1920.” Yeah.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF: Were a lot of these threats and vile comments racist in nature?

SHAYE MOSS: A lot of them were racist. A lot of them were just hateful. Yes, sir.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF: In one of the videos we just watched, Mr. Giuliani accused you and your mother of passing some sort of USB drive to each other. What was your mom actually handing you on that video?

SHAYE MOSS: A ginger mint.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF: It wasn’t just Rudy Giuliani. We heard President Trump make these false allegations repeatedly during his call with Secretary Raffensperger. Let’s listen to a portion of what he had to say about you and your mother.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We had at least 18,000, that’s on tape. We had them counted very painstakingly, 18,000 voters having to do with Ruby Freeman. That’s — she’s a vote scammer, a professional vote scammer and hustler.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF: Donald Trump attacked you and your mother, using her name 18 times on that call. Eighteen times. Ms. Moss, can you describe what you experienced listening to former President Trump attack you and your mother in a call with the Georgia secretary of state?

SHAYE MOSS: I felt horrible. I felt like it was all my fault, like if I would have never decided to be an elections worker, like, I could have done anything else, but that’s what I decided to do. And now people are lying and spreading rumors and lies and attacking my mom — I’m her only child — going to my grandmother’s house — I’m her only grandchild. And my kid is just — I felt so bad. I just felt bad for my mom, and I felt horrible for picking this job and being the one that always wants to help and always there, never missing not one election. I just felt like it was my fault for putting my family in this situation.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF: Well, it wasn’t your fault. Your mother was kind enough to come speak with us earlier. Let’s listen to her story in her words.

RUBY FREEMAN: My name is Ruby Freeman. I’ve always believed it when God says that he’ll make your name great, but this is not the way it was supposed to be. I could have never imagined the events that followed the presidential election 2020.

For my entire professional life, I was Lady Ruby. My community in Georgia where I was born and lived my whole life knew me as Lady Ruby. I built my own business around that name, LaRuby’s Unique Treasures, a pop-up shop catering to ladies with unique fashions. I wore a shirt that proudly proclaimed that I was and I am Lady Ruby. Actually, I had that shirt on — I had that shirt in every color. I wore that shirt on Election Day 2020. I haven’t worn it since, and I’ll never wear it again.

Now I won’t even introduce myself by my name anymore. I get nervous when I bump into someone I know in the grocery store who says my name. I’m worried about who’s listening. I get nervous when I have to give my name for food orders. I’m always concerned of who’s around me. I’ve lost my name, and I’ve lost my reputation. I’ve lost my sense of security, all because a group of people, starting with number 45 and his ally, Rudy Giuliani, decided to scapegoat me and my daughter Shaye to push their own lies about how the presidential election was stolen.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF: Ms. Moss, how has this experience of being targeted by the former president and his allies affected your life?

SHAYE MOSS: This turned my life upside down. I no longer give out my business card. I don’t transfer calls. I don’t want anyone knowing my name. I don’t want to go anywhere with my mom, because she might yell my name out over the grocery aisle or something. I don’t go to the grocery store at all. I haven’t been anywhere at all. I’ve gained about 60 pounds. I just don’t do nothing anymore. I don’t want to go anywhere. I second-guess everything that I do. It’s affected my life in a major way, in every way, all because of lies, for me doing my job, same thing I’ve been doing forever.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF: Your mother also told the select committee about how she had to leave her own home for her safety and go into hiding after the FBI told her that it would not be safe for her there before January 6th and until the inauguration. Let’s listen to a clip of her story in her own words.

RUBY FREEMAN: Around the week of January 6th, the FBI informed me that I needed to leave my home for safety. And I left my home for safety around that time.

INVESTIGATOR: Understood. How long did you stay out, did you, you know, remain outside of your home for your own safety?

RUBY FREEMAN: I stayed away from my home for approximately two months. It was horrible. I felt homeless. I felt, you know, I can’t believe — I can’t believe this person has caused this much damage to me and my family, to have to leave my home that I’ve lived there for 21 years. And, you know, I’m having to have my neighbors watch out for me, you know, and I have to go and stay with somebody. It was hard. It was horrible.

INVESTIGATOR: And the — your conversation with the FBI about needing to leave your home for your own safety, or perhaps recommending it, do you remember was there a specific threat that prompted that, or was it the accumulation of threats that you had received?

RUBY FREEMAN: What prompted it was — was getting ready to — January 6th was about to come. And they did not want me to be at home because of all the threats and everything that I had gotten. They didn’t want me to be there in fear of, you know, that people were coming to my home. And I had a lot of that, so they didn’t want me to be there, just in case something happened. I asked, “How long am I going to have to be gone?” They said, “At least until the inauguration.”

REP. ADAM SCHIFF: Ms. Moss, I understand that people once showed up at your grandmother’s house. Tell us about that experience.

SHAYE MOSS: I received a call from my grandmother. This woman is my everything. I’ve never even heard her or seen her cry ever in my life. And she called me, screaming at the top of her lungs, like, “Shaye! Shaye! Oh my gosh! Shaye!” just freaking me out, saying that there were people at her home, and they — you know, they knocked on the door, and of course she opened it, and seeing who was there, who it was.

And they just started pushing their way through, claiming that they were coming in to make a citizen’s arrest. They needed to find me and my mom. They knew we were there. And she was just, like, screaming and didn’t know what to do. And I wasn’t there. So, you know, I just felt so helpless and so horrible for her. And she was just screaming.

I told her to close the door, don’t open the door for anyone. And, you know, she’s a 70-something, I won’t say, -year-old woman. And she — she doesn’t like having restrictions. She wants to answer the door. She likes to get her steps in, walking around the neighborhood. And I had to tell her, like, “You can’t do that. You have to be safe.” You know, she would tell me that at night people would just continuously send pizzas over and over to her home, you know, and they were expecting her to pay for these large amounts of pizzas. And she went through a lot that she didn’t have to. And once again, it made me just feel so horrible.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF: In addition to the personal impact this experience has had on you and your family, one of the things that I find most disturbing is how these lies discourage longtime election workers from continuing to do this important work. Tell us, if you would, of the other election workers shown in that State Farm Arena video and their supervisors, how many are still election workers in Fulton County?

SHAYE MOSS: There is no permanent election worker or supervisor in that video that’s still there.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF: And did you end up leaving your position, as well?

SHAYE MOSS: Yes, I left.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF: Ms. Moss, I want to thank you for coming in to speak with us, and to thank you for your service to our democracy. What we have just played is a truly horrible and appalling sample, but just a sample, of the things that were said about you and your mother following the election. I want to say how very sorry I think we all are for what you’ve gone through. And tragically, you’re not alone. Other election workers around the country have also been the subject of lies and threats. No election worker should be subject to such heinous treatment just for doing their job. With your permission, I would like to give your mother the last word.

SHAYE MOSS: Yes.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF: We’re just going to play the tape.

RUBY FREEMAN: There is nowhere I feel safe. Nowhere. Do you know how it feels to have the president of the United States to target you? The president of the United States is supposed to represent every American — not to target one. But he targeted me, Lady Ruby, a small business owner, a mother, a proud American citizen, who stand up to help Fulton County run an election in the middle of the pandemic.

AMY GOODMAN: Deposition video of Ruby Freeman, mother of Shaye Moss, both former Georgia state election workers whose testimony was heard Tuesday by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol. Ruby was sitting behind her daughter during Shaye’s testimony.

To see all four public hearings in full, you can go to democracynow.org. We’re also live-streaming the fifth hearing on Thursday at 1 p.m. Eastern at democracynow.org.

Democracy Now! produced with Renée Feltz, Mike Burke, Deena Guzder, Messiah Rhodes, Nermeen Shaikh, María Taracena, Tami Woronoff, Cam Baker. I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks so much for joining us.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

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