A New York court has suspended Rudy Giuliani‘s licence to practise law in the state, citing the “demonstrably false and misleading” claims he made about election fraud on behalf of his client, former U.S. president Donald Trump.
The appellant court suspended Giuliani in a 33-page decision released on Thursday, in which it blasted the former New York City mayor for repeatedly pushing Trump’s election falsehoods in court and in public. The decision includes a laundry list of Giuliani’s false election narratives, as well as a systematic explanation of why they were untrue.
“These false statements were made to improperly bolster (Giuliani’s) narrative that due to widespread voter fraud, victory in the 2020 United States presidential election was stolen from his client,” the court wrote in its decision.
It added that Giuliani’s conduct “immediately threatens the public interest and warrants interim suspension from the practice of law.”
The court did not say when or how Giuliani’s licence might be restored, though it did point out that he continued to push the falsehoods throughout a review of his conduct. He will face disciplinary hearings in which he will be allowed to fight the suspension and a potential disbarment.
The suspension means Giuliani will not be allowed to represent anyone as a lawyer in New York, although that won’t stop him from acting as a lobbyist or consultant. He is still licensed to practise in Washington, D.C.
An attorney disciplinary committee put forward the motion against Giuliani, citing “uncontroverted evidence” that he had made false statements to the courts, the public and lawmakers as he pushed theories that the election was stolen through fraud.
“This country is being torn apart by continued attacks on the legitimacy of the 2020 election and of our current president, Joseph R. Biden,” the committee wrote. “The hallmark of our democracy is predicated on free and fair elections. False statements intended to foment a loss of confidence in our elections and resulting loss of confidence in government generally damage the proper functioning of a free society.”
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The decision marks a stunning, decades-long fall from grace for Giuliani, who was once celebrated as “America’s Mayor” for his response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on New York City.
Giuliani served as Trump’s personal lawyer through the latter part of Trump’s term in office. He played a key role in the pressure campaign against Ukraine that ultimately led to Trump’s first impeachment trial. Later, Giuliani became the public face of Trump’s legal efforts to cling to power after the 2020 election, which Joe Biden won by more than seven million votes.
Giuliani frequently claimed in public that he had proof of systemic election fraud against Trump, but he failed to prove any of his claims while racking up more than 60 defeats in various court battles. He pushed a wide range of falsehoods, including conspiracy theories about fabricated mail-in ballots, dead Americans voting, illegal votes and manipulated voting machines.
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Giuliani pushed those same election fraud falsehoods while speaking to a crowd of Trump supporters in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, ahead of the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Giuliani called for a “trial by combat” in his remarks to the crowd before the riot.
“One only has to look at the ongoing present public discord over the 2020 election, which erupted into violence, insurrection and death on Jan. 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol, to understand the extent of the damage that can be done when the public is misled by false information about the elections,” the court wrote.
In its decision, the court cited numerous complaints it had received about Giuliani and his conduct as a lawyer on Trump’s behalf.
The court also highlighted some of Giuliani’s public statements about the election, including a widely mocked press conference that he held in the Four Seasons Total Landscaping parking lot in Pennsylvania last November.
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“Notwithstanding the true facts, (Giuliani) repeatedly advanced false statements that there were 600,000 to 700,000 fabricated mail-in ballots,” the court said. It also raised several false statements that Giuliani made on his radio show, on Steve Bannon’s podcast, and before lawmakers in several battleground states that Trump lost.
The 33-page ruling picks apart a long list of false claims that Giuliani made about the election result, both in court and in public, including the oft-repeated and false suggestion that the late boxer Joe Frazier voted in 2020. The document also dismisses Giuliani’s claims that he did not know he was repeating falsehoods when he said them.
On the claim that “dead people” voted in Philadelphia, for example, the court said that Giuliani “fails to provide a scintilla of evidence” for his “varying and wildly inconsistent numbers of dead people” that he claims were casting ballots in 2020.
The court goes on to poke holes in Giuliani’s conspiracy theories about Dominion Voting Systems machines being manipulated, though it stopped short of declaring those claims to be false because Dominion is currently suing Giuliani.
“We find that all of these acts of misconduct, when considered separately or taken together, also establish that (Giuliani) violated the Rules of Conduct because his conduct adversely reflects on his fitness as a lawyer,” the court said.
Giuliani’s attorneys said in a statement that it was “unprecedented” for Giuliani to be suspended before “being afforded a hearing on the issues that are alleged.”
“We believe that once the issues are fully explored at a hearing Mr. Giuliani will be reinstated as a valued member of the legal profession that he has served so well in his many capacities for so many years,” wrote attorneys Barry Kamins and John Leventhal.
Giuliani is also under federal investigation for his dealings with Ukraine ahead of the 2020 election.
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