Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, U.S. President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, speaks in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on November 7, 2020.
Eduardo Munoz | Reuters
A New York court suspended Rudy Giuliani from practicing law in New York State on Thursday for making “false and misleading statements” about his client Donald Trump’s defeat.
The suspension, which comes into effect immediately, is a severe blow to Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who previously served as the chief Justice Department official and US attorney in Manhattan.
It also happens that Giuliani is being investigated in connection with his work in Ukraine by the same federal prosecutor in Manhattan.
Giuliani and Trump have been making false claims about the legitimacy of President Joe Biden’s election since last November, claiming that only widespread electoral fraud in major swing states cheated Trump of victory.
Giuliani’s suspension, ordered the day before his 52nd anniversary as a licensed attorney in New York, was requested by the Attorney Grievance Committee for the First Judicial Department, which includes Manhattan and the Bronx.
The suspension was granted by the Appeals Division for the same division of the state Supreme Court that dismissed Giuliani’s allegations that the investigation into his conduct in representing Trump after the 2020 election violated his right to freedom of expression in the First Amendment.
The court found in its 33-page suspension order that “preliminary suspension is a serious remedy available only in situations where there is an immediate need to protect the public from” violations of professional conduct by a lawyer.
“We conclude that there is undisputed evidence that the defendant, in his capacity as attorney for former President Donald J. Trump and the Trump campaign in connection with Trump’s failed re-election attempt, has made demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the made public in 2020 ”, it says in the order.
The court also said that Giuliani’s “false statements were made to inappropriately support respondent’s account that widespread electoral fraud stole his client’s victory in the 2020 presidential election in the United States”.
“We conclude that the defendant’s conduct immediately jeopardizes the public interest and warrants a temporary suspension of the legal practice pending further proceedings before the attorney’s complaints committee.”
Examples of conduct cited by the order included Giuliani’s repeated false claims to a Pennsylvania federal judge after Election Day that Trump’s campaign “pursued an allegation of fraud when it was undeniably not the case”.
One of the examples cited by the Order was Giuliani’s repeated assertion, in an effort to discredit election results, that “the dead in Philadelphia ‘voted'”.
Giuliani claimed at various times that the ballot papers of 8,021 dead were cast, “while he also gave the figure as 30,000”.
“As an anecdotal figurehead to prove this point, he repeatedly stated that the famous heavyweight boxer Joe Frazier continued to vote years after his death.
Indeed, the ruling added, “The public records filed on this motion clearly show that the defendant’s testimony is false. Public records show that Pennsylvania formally suspended Mr. Frazier’s voting rights on February 8, 2012, three months after his death. “
Giuliani had also falsely claimed on several occasions that Pennsylvania had received more postal ballot papers than the state sent out prior to the election.
In response to the court’s inquiry, the ruling stated that Giulani had “not denied that his factual statement that only 1.8 million postal ballot papers were requested was untrue”.
“His defense is that he did not knowingly make this false statement,” the order reads. “Respondent claims he relied on an unidentified member of his’ team ‘who’ accidentally picked up information from the Pennsylvania website that incorrectly listed the information.”
But the court found that there is simply no evidence here to support that explanation. For example, there is no affidavit from this alleged team member who is not identified by name or otherwise, nor is there a copy of the website that allegedly lists the allegedly false information.
Giuliani’s suspension is temporary pending the outcome of a full formal disciplinary hearing.
His attorneys John Leventhal and Barry Kamins said in a statement: “We are disappointed with the Appeals Department’s decision by the Department of First to suspend Mayor Giuliani before granting a hearing on the alleged issues.”
“This is unprecedented as we believe our client is not currently a threat to the public interest,” said the statement from attorneys, both of whom are retired judges. “We believe that once the issues are fully investigated at a hearing, Mr. Giuliani will be reinstated as a valued member of the legal profession which he has served so well in his many roles for so many years.”
New York Senator Brad Hoylman, D-Manhattan, who filed a complaint about Giuliani’s conduct with the Attorney Grievance Committee, said, “I’m glad” about the suspension.
“The lawyer profession is sacred and noble,” Hoylman said in a statement. “And there can be no place in the profession for those who try to undermine and destroy the rule of law, as Rudy Giuliani has so blatantly done.”
The suspension order was issued hours before a lawyer from Giuliani appeared in Washington federal court for a hearing on his offer to dismiss a $ 1.3 billion libel suit against him by Dominion Voting Systems.
This voting machine company accuses Giuliani of causing “irreparable harm” to the company while “cashing in” the “big lie” that the Trump race was stolen by widespread fraud.
Giuliani’s attorney filed a motion to dismiss the case in April, arguing, in part, that Dominion’s lawsuit had failed to meet due process standards.
Dominion has filed separate, multi-billion dollar defamation suits against MyPillow and the company’s pro-Trump CEO Mike Lindell and pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell.
Additional coverage from CNBCs Kevin Breuninger