WASHINGTON — A bankruptcy judge has ruled that Rudy Giuliani, the once-respected former mayor of New York City, can appeal the $146 million verdict after he was found liable of defaming two Georgia elections workers — if he uses pre-approved donors to pay the legal expenses.

In December, an eight-person jury awarded Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, the multimillion-dollar judgment after Giuliani was found to have defamed them, which the mother-daughter duo said had changed their lives forever and caused them to be flooded with a torrent of racist and violent threats. Giuliani baselessly accused them of trying to commit fraud in Georgia as part of a multifaceted effort to overturn Donald Trump’s 2020 election defeat.

Giuliani filed for bankruptcy in New York in December after the federal judge in his Washington case ordered him to start paying the Georgia election workers. On Tuesday, the bankruptcy judge assigned to Giuliani’s case in New York said the former mayor must seek the judge’s approval before any third-party payment of fees and expenses. Those fees cannot come from Giuliani’s existing assets, the judge said.

“Any fees and expenses incurred by the Debtor and his advisors in the Freeman Litigation in connection with any Post-Trial Filings and the Notice of Appeal shall not be paid by, and shall not result in a claim against, the Debtor or his estate,” U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Sean Lane wrote.

In a court filing last week, Freeman and Moss noted that Giuliani’s son was president of Giuliani Defense, a legal defense fund, and said it was “essential to obtain clarity on how the Legal Defense Funds were themselves funded.” On Monday, Giuliani declared that he had not directly or indirectly donated any money to either of his legal defense funds.

Last week, in Trump’s fraud case, a judge fined Trump more than $350 million, which grows to more than $450 million with interest, after finding that Trump and his executives had a “complete lack of contrition and remorse” that bordered “on pathological.”

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