NEW YORK (AP) – An appeals court suspended Rudy Giuliani from practicing law in New York on Thursday for making false statements as he tried to get the courts to overturn Donald’s defeat Trump in the presidential race.
A disciplinary committee of a lawyer had asked the court to suspend Giuliani’s license on the grounds that he had broken professional conduct rules by promoting theories that the election was stolen by fraud.
The court agreed and said the suspension should be immediate, although disciplinary proceedings are not yet complete, as there was an “immediate threat” to the public.
“The seriousness of the Respondent’s undisputed misconduct cannot be overstated,” the court wrote. “This country is torn apart by continued attacks on the legitimacy of the 2020 elections and of our current president, Joseph R. Biden.”
Trump called the suspension a politically motivated “witch hunt”, while Giuliani said it was a “disgrace” on his afternoon radio show. The court’s opinion, Giuliani said, was based on hearsay and “could have been written by the Democratic National Committee.”
“The bar should give me an award,” the Republican told WABC-AM listeners. “I defended an unpopular client. I was threatened with death. A lot of my income has been taken away from me. I lost friends because of it.
“It happens to silence me,” he added. “They want Giuliani to shut up.”
The court ruled that Giuliani, as Trump’s lawyer, “had communicated manifestly false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the general public.”
Giuliani, a former New York mayor and US attorney in Manhattan, claimed the investigation violated his First Amendment right to free speech and that he did not knowingly make any false statements.
The court rejected these arguments, noting that in Pennsylvania, Giuliani failed “to provide any evidence of any of the varying and extremely inconsistent numbers of deceased persons he actually represented in Philadelphia at the time of the ‘2020 presidential election “.
“False statements intended to promote a loss of confidence in our elections and the resulting loss of confidence in the government generally undermine the proper functioning of a free society,” the court wrote.
Interim suspensions are often a precursor to deregistration, but are generally “reserved for lawyers convicted of a felony,” said Bruce Green, former federal prosecutor who heads the Louis Stein Center for Law and Ethics at Fordham University School of Law. “This is rarely done in cases involving lying lawyers.”
Still, Giuliani will be allowed to fight the suspension and even call witnesses as part of his challenge – a process that could take months to unfold – and Giuliani’s lawyers have said they expect that ‘he be reinstated’ once the issues are fully explored in a hearing. . “
“He gets another day in court,” Green said.
The ruling prevents Giuliani from representing clients as a lawyer, but it could have limited practical impact. Before arguing Trump’s case in November, the former Mafia prosecutor had not appeared in court as a lawyer since 1992, court records showed.
Giuliani was the main spokesperson for Trump’s false allegations of election fraud after the 2020 vote, standing at a press conference outside Four Seasons Total Landscaping outside of Philadelphia on the day the race was called for Biden and saying they would challenge what he claimed to be a large Democrat plot.
Lies around the election results helped spur an angry mob of pro-Trump rioters to storm the United States Capitol on January 6 in an attempt to prevent Biden’s victory from being certified. Since then, Republicans have used this lie to push through stricter election laws nationwide.
The suspension comes as Giuliani is under scrutiny by federal prosecutors for his interactions with prominent Ukrainian figures as he tries to get that country to open an investigation into Biden’s son.
Federal agents raided Giuliani’s home and office in April, taking away electronic devices, including phones and computers.
The investigation includes an examination of whether Giuliani was required to register as a foreign agent in the United States. Some of the Ukrainian figures Giuliani worked with were also interested in enlisting his help in lobbying the Trump administration.
Giuliani said he was innocent of any wrongdoing and the investigations were politically motivated.
Giuliani could also face consequences in Georgia, where he has made statements to legislative committees questioning the legitimacy of that state’s election that are cited in the New York court ruling.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has opened a criminal investigation into potential attempts to influence Georgia’s 2020 election, including examining “the fabrication of false statements to state and local government agencies.”
Georgian Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican who was attacked by Trump and his allies for failing to take action to reverse the loss of the former president in the state, was vindicated by the court’s ruling in New York.
“The judges acknowledged that the baseless conspiracy theories repeated by Giuliani were not true and punished him for spreading lies, especially about the elections in Georgia,” he said Thursday.
The suspension will not affect Giuliani’s ability to act as a lobbyist or to provide security advice, but will likely prevent him from practicing law in jurisdictions even beyond New York, said David S. Weinstein, former federal prosecutor.
Giuliani would be obliged to inform other states of the suspension, he said, which “will in all likelihood lead them to say, ‘You won’t be able to practice here. “
Associated Press editors Kate Brumback in Atlanta, Michael Hill in Albany, NY, and Michael Balsamo in Washington contributed to this report.