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The curious timing of Trump’s new offensive against Ruby Freeman

For the third time in eight days, Donald Trump went after Ruby Freeman with outrageous and potentially dangerous lies. It's worth considering why.


Late last week, on the anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack, President Joe Biden hosted a special event at the White House to present Presidential Citizens Medals to a small group of Americans. The point, as NBC News reported, was to honor a select, bipartisan group of election workers, officials, and law enforcement officers for their “contributions to our democracy” before and during the riot.

Among the deserving recipients were Shaye Moss, a clerical worker in a county election office in Georgia, and her mother, Ruby Freeman, who took a temp job helping count ballots in the 2020 election. Both women were the target of a baseless and dangerous right-wing smear campaign, and Biden took care to applaud Moss and Freeman for their work and perseverance.

“Despite it all, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss found the courage to testify openly and honestly for the whole country and the world about their experience to set the record straight about the lies and defend the integrity of our elections,” the Democratic president said. “Ruby and Shaye, you don’t deserve what happened to you, but you do deserve the nation’s eternal thanks for showing the dignity and grace of We the People. [It’s] presumptuous of me, but I’m so proud of you both.”

Late yesterday, Donald Trump returned once again to his social media platform to peddle lies about the women — and to argue that Freeman might not be able to keep her Presidential Citizens Medal.

“Ruby, her daughter, and the others who ran back into the counting room, grabbing the cases from under the ‘skirted’ table, and then back to their counting machines where they came from prior to hearing ‘water main break’ (which never happened) have got a lot of explaining to do. I predict that this medal, at a minimum, will someday be withdrawn.”

Once again, there is no doubt that the former president is brazenly lying. His made-up claims have been thoroughly discredited by, among others, state law enforcement and his own Justice Department appointees who scrutinized the allegations. There is simply no factual basis for the Republican to attack these women.

Or more accurately, to keep attacking these women.

As regular readers know, as Trump’s big lie took shape in the aftermath of his 2020 defeat, the former president went after the two Black women, by name, repeatedly, which in turn led Republican activists to threaten the women’s lives and show up at their homes.

Freeman, a retiree who started a small boutique business selling fashion accessories, was forced to flee her house, close her business, and move to an undisclosed location on the advice of the FBI for her own safety — all because of a ridiculous lie.

In time, Trump’s interests shifted, right up until last week, when he began the offensive anew. Around midnight on Jan. 2, he published a trio of ridiculous missives, falsely accusing Freeman of having committed election crimes.

Two days later, on Jan. 4, the former president kept the attacks going, pushing new, equally bonkers lies about Freeman. Last night, evidently, the Republican felt compelled to return to his fixation, apparently indifferent to the possible consequences for his undeserving target.

It’s difficult to guess what precipitated this renewed campaign, but it’s worth noting for context that it roughly coincides with a related story out of Freeman’s hometown of Atlanta. NBC News reported this week:

The Georgia grand jury conducting a criminal investigation into whether there were any “coordinated attempts to unlawfully alter the outcome of the 2020 elections” in the state by former President Donald Trump and his allies has completed its work, a judge said in a ruling issued Monday.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney explained in a ruling that the grand jury was convened for an investigation into “‘the facts and circumstances relating directly or indirectly to possible attempts to disrupt the lawful administration of the 2020 elections in the State of Georgia’ and to prepare a report on whether anyone should be prosecuted for such potential crimes.”

We don’t yet know what the findings entail or who, if anyone, will be criminally charged. But as my colleague Lisa Rubin explained last week, the case is advancing apace, and it’s clear that Trump is scared of being held accountable for his anti-election antics in Georgia.

It hardly seems like a coincidence that as the threat of an indictment looms in Fulton County, the former president is pointing hysterically at imagined election crimes in Fulton County, specifically targeting Freeman, whose experiences were considered as part of the local investigation.