As the saying goes, elections have consequences — and so does submitting “demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts” about them. A state appeals court in New York suspended Rudy Giuliani’s law license this morning, ruling that when acting as Donald Trump’s attorney in election challenges, Giuliani violated his duties as an officer of the court. The decision declared “uncontroverted evidence” of misconduct, and might portend similarly harsh consequences for other attorneys involved in these challenges:
A New York appellate court suspended Rudolph W. Giuliani’s law license on Thursday after a disciplinary panel found that he made “demonstrably false and misleading” statements about the 2020 election as Donald J. Trump’s personal attorney.
The court wrote in a 33-page decision that Mr. Giuliani’s conduct threatened “the public interest and warrants interim suspension from the practice of law.”
Mr. Giuliani helped lead Mr. Trump’s legal challenge to the election results, arguing without merit that the vote had been rife with fraud and that voting machines had been rigged.
“We conclude that there is uncontroverted evidence that respondent communicated demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the public at large in his capacity as lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump and the Trump campaign in connection with Trump’s failed effort at reelection in 2020,” the decision read.
This is a separate review than the New York State Bar Association threatened to conduct in January. They cited Giuliani’s remark about “trial by combat” at the January 6 White House rally that preceded the riot on Capitol Hill as a reason to expel Giuliani from membership. That’s not the same thing as being disbarred, as I noted at the time, but it would have done some reputational damage.
This decision by the appellate court, on the other hand, is effectively the same thing as disbarment. Without a law license, Giuliani can’t practice law personally, but it’s not altogether clear whether that impacts work done at his law firm. Presumably not, and the impact is probably limited to reputational damage here too, since Giuliani wasn’t practicing much law in the last several years anyway. His business efforts had shifted to consulting, and he had to dust off his degree to come back to work as Trump’s lead attorney in election challenges.
The decision itself reads like a point-by-point debunking of the “stop the steal” campaign, at least its Pennsylvania chapter:
Respondent repeatedly stated that in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania more absentee ballots came in during the election than were sent out before the election. The factual “proof” he claimed supported his conclusion was that although Pennsylvania sent out only 1,823,148 absentee ballots before the election, 2,589,242 million absentee ballots were then counted in the election. This factual statement regarding the number of ballots mailed out before the election was simply untrue. The true facts are that 3.08 million absentee ballots were mailed out before the general election, which more than accounted for the over 2.5 million mail-in ballots that were actually tallied. Notwithstanding the true facts, respondent repeatedly advanced false statements that there were 600,000 to 700,000 fabricated mail-in ballots, which were never sent to voters in advance of the election.5 Respondent made these false claims during his November 8, 2020 radio program, Uncovering the Truth with Rudy Giuliani & Dr. Maria Ryan, during a November 25, 2020 meeting of the Republican State Senate Majority Policy Committee in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, during a December 2, 2020 meeting of the Michigan House Oversight Committee, during his December 17, 2020 broadcast of the radio show Chat with the Mayor, and he repeated it during an episode of Steve Bannon’s the War Room: Pandemic podcast on December 24, 2020.
Respondent does not deny that his factual statement, that only 1.8 million mail-in ballots were requested, was untrue. His defense is that he did not make this misstatement knowingly. Respondent claims that he relied on some unidentified member of his “team” who “inadvertently” took the information from the Pennsylvania website, which had the information mistakenly listed (Giuliani affidavit ¶49). There is simply no proof to support this explanation. For instance, there is no affidavit from this supposed team member who is not identified by name or otherwise, nor is there any copy of the web page that purportedly listed the allegedly incorrect data. In fact, the only proof in this record is the official data on the Pennsylvania open data portal correctly listing the ballots requested as 3.08 million.
Why is New York’s appellate court dealing with this issue in another state? Simple — Giuliani filed a pro hac vice motion to appear based on his standing in New York. The appellate court has juridiction over Giuliani’s conduct on that basis.
The court also took notice of Giuliani’s double-talk on election fraud in Pennsylvania:
Respondent’s mischaracterization of the case was not simply a passing mistake or inadvertent reference. Fraud was the crown of his personal argument before the court that day. In his opening remarks, respondent claimed that the allegations in the complaint concerned “widespread, nationwide voter fraud of which this is a part….” He persisted in making wide ranging conclusory claims of fraud in Pennsylvania elections and other jurisdictions allegedly occurring over a period of many years. Respondent argued that the plaintiff’s fraud arguments pertained to the canvassing claim, notwithstanding that there was neither a fraud nor a canvassing claim before the court.
Giuliani’s claims about dead people voting in Pennsylvania were similarly false and/or misleading, and the court isn’t buying it as a mistake:
As for respondent’s argument that his misstatements were unknowing, respondent fails to provide a scintilla of evidence for any of the varying and wildly inconsistent numbers of dead people he factually represented voted in Philadelphia during the 2020 presidential election. Although respondent assured the public that he was investigating this claim, respondent has not provided this tribunal with any report or the results of any investigation which supports his statements about how many dead voters he claims voted in Philadelphia in the 2020 presidential election. Respondent claims his statements were justified because the state of Pennsylvania subsequently agreed to purge 21,000 dead voters from its rolls in 2021. This fact, even if true, is beside the point. This statistic concerns the whole state. Purging voter rolls does not prove that the purged voters actually voted in 2020 and per force it does not prove they voted in Philadelphia. It does not even prove that they were dead in November 2020. Moreover, the number of statewide purged voters (21,000) bears no correlation to the numbers of dead voters respondent factually asserted voted in Philadelphia alone (either 8,000 or 30,000). Clearly any statewide purging of voters from the voting rolls in 2021 could not have provided a basis for statements made by respondent in 2020, because the information did not exist. Regarding Mr. Frazier, respondent claims he reasonably relied on the reporting of a “blogger.” The blog article provided on this motion, however, never claims that Mr. Frazier voted in the 2020 election. Nor could it, because the claims made in the article (in which respondent was quoted) are based upon an alleged review of public records from 2017 and 2018.8
And so on ad infinitum. Clearly the court took a very dim view of Giuliani’s antics in court. Combine this with the GOP-led debunking of the Kraken claims in Michigan yesterday, and the “steal” narrative pushed by Trump, Giuliani, and their allies is looking mighty threadbare indeed.
Next up is Sidney Powell in Michigan, with a July 6 hearing in federal court on similar charges. That should prove very interesting indeed.