Wandrea “Shaye” Moss and her mother, Ruby Freeman, were little known – if at all – to most Americans before Tuesday’s session of the House Jan. 6 committee. Now, for many, they are the faces of the depth that former President Donald Trump and his allies sunk to in their ill-fated attempt to overthrow the November 2020 presidential election.
Moss and Freeman were the targets of Trump-camp falsehoods accusing the former Georgia elections workers of pulling fake ballots from a suitcase. Their wrenching testimony – Moss before the committee and Freeman via video – detailed how their lives have been turned upside down and inside out.
As he introduced Moss, Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson, the committee chairman, called Moss and her mother “two of the unsung heroes in this country doing the hard work of keeping our democracy functioning for every American.”
Thompson then noted what was to come, including questions about threats Moss and Freeman received following the 2020 election. In response to Thompson, Moss, who served 10-plus years as an election worker, said she never had experienced anything like it.
Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) handled the bulk of the questioning of Moss, introducing video testimony from Freeman along the way.
Schiff: … I understand that you were employed by the Fulton County Registration and Elections Department for more than 10 years and I understand that you love that job. Please tell us what made you so fond of the work that you did?
Moss: Well, I’ve always been told by my grandmother how important it is to vote and how people before me, a lot of people, older people in my family did not have that right. So, what I loved most about my job were the older voters. Younger people could usually, do everything from their phone or go online but the older voters like to call, they like to talk to you, they like to get my card. They like to know that every election I’m here and even college students, a lot of parents trusting me to make sure their child does not have to drive home. …
I like being the one that if someone can’t navigate my voter page or they want a new precinct card and they don’t have a copy machine or a computer or all of that, I could put it in the mail for them. … I even remember driving to a hospital to give someone her absentee application. That’s what I love the most. …
Schiff then walked Moss through the “dramatic turn” that occurred when “Rudy Giuliani (the president’s lawyer) publicized the video of you and your mother counting ballots on election night. President Trump, Rudy Giuliani and others claimed on the basis of this video that you and your mother were somehow involved in a plot to kick out observers, bring suitcases of false ballots for Biden into the arena and then run them through the machines multiple times.”
None of it was true, said Moss, later testifying that she learned of the video when called into the office by a boss.
“Well, when I saw the video, the first thing that I said was like, ‘Why are they doing this, what’s going on?’ And they 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 have I been receiving anything? And I need to check on my mom.”
Moss testified that she doesn’t use Facebook much and discovered the threats when directed there, where she discovered “a lot of horrible things …. A lot of threats, wishing death upon me, telling me that I’ll be in jail with my mother and some things like be glad it’s 2020 and not 1920. … A lot of them were racist; a lot of them were just hateful….”
Schiff: In one of the videos we just watched Mr. Giuliani accused you and your mother (of) passing some USB drive to each other. What was your mom actually handing you on that video?
Moss: A ginger mint.
Schiff then played a tape of Trump making false allegations about Moss and Freeman repeatedly during a call with Secretary Raffensperger. In a reference to Freeman, Trump is heard saying, “She’s a vote scammer, a professional vote scammer and hustler.”
Schiff: Donald Trump attacked you and your mother using her name 18 times on that call. 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?
Moss: I felt horrible. I felt like it was all my fault like if I would have never decided to be an elections worker. I could’ve 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, … going to my grandmother’s house. … 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 one election. I just felt like it was my fault for putting my family in this situation.
“Well, it wasn’t your fault,” said Schiff, then turning to the video testimony of Moss’ mother.
“My name is Ruby Freeman. I’ve always believed that 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 of 2020,” said Freeman.
“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, Lady Ruby’s Unique Treasures, a popup shop catering to ladies with unique fashions. I wore a shirt that proudly proclaimed that I was and I am lady Ruby. … I wore that shirt on election day 2020, I haven’t worn it since and I’ll never wear it again.”
Freeman said she now won’t even introduce herself by 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, Shea, to push their own lies about how the presidential election was stolen.”
Schiff: Ms. Moss, how has this experience of being targeted by the former president and his allies affected your life?
Moss: It’s 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 and in every way all because of lies for me doing my job; same thing I’ve been doing forever.
In more video testimony, Freeman detailed how she decided to leave her home 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.
Freeman: I stayed away from my home for approximately two months. It was horrible, I felt homeless. I felt I can’t believe this person has caused this much damage to me and my family to have to leave my home (where) I’ve lived there for 21 years. And I’m having to have my neighbors watch out for me and I have to go and stay with somebody. It was hard, it was horrible.”
Schiff: Ms. Moss, I understand that people once showed up at your grandmother’s house, tell us about that experience.
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, “Shea, oh my God.” Just freaking me out, saying that there were people at her home and they knocked on the door and, of course, she opened it …
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 screaming and didn’t know what to do and I wasn’t there. So, 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.
Moss said her grandmother is “70 something” and “she likes to get her steps in, walking around the neighborhood. And I had to tell her, ‘You can’t do that, you have to be safe.’ And she would tell me that at night, people would just continuously send pizzas over and over to her home and they were expecting her to pay for these large amounts of pizzas. She went through a lot that she didn’t have to. And once again, it made me just feel so horrible.
Schiff said that in addition to the personal impact of the experiences, he found it “most disturbing … how these lies discourage longtime election workers from continuing to do this important work.”
Moss told Schiff that no permanent election worker or supervisor showed in the video still worked there and that she had left her position as well.
Schiff thanked Moss for testifying before the committee and “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 workers should be subject to such heinous treatment just for doing their job ….