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Rudy Giuliani has New York law license suspended for election falsehoods

New York suspends Giuliani's law license
New York suspends Rudy Giuliani's law license 12:18

Washington — A New York court said Thursday that Rudy Giuliani is suspended from practicing law in the state after it found he spread false information about the 2020 presidential election while serving as a lawyer for former President Trump and the Trump campaign, which "immediately threatens the public interest."

The appeals court in New York said in its order there is "uncontroverted evidence" that Giuliani "communicated demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the public at large" in the course of his efforts to overturn Mr. Trump's loss in the 2020 presidential election.

"The seriousness of respondent's uncontroverted misconduct cannot be overstated," the court said in the 33-page decision. "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 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."

The court went on to warn that when such falsehoods are made by an attorney, it "erodes the public's confidence in the integrity of attorneys admitted to our bar and damages the profession's role as a crucial source of reliable information."

Rudy Giuliani Endorses GOP NYC Mayoral Candidate Curtis Sliwa
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani makes an appearance in support of fellow Republican Curtis Sliwa who is running for NYC mayor on June 21, 2021 in New York City.  / Getty Images

John Leventhal and Barry Kamins, Giuliani's lawyers, said in a statement they are disappointed with the decision by the appellate court to suspend him before a hearing on the issues raised.

"This is unprecedented as we believe that our client does not pose a present danger to the public interest," they said. "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." 

The Attorney Grievance Committee for the First Judicial Department in New York asked the court for an interim suspension of Giuliani's license on the basis there is "uncontroverted evidence of professional misconduct," relying on statements he made at press conferences and state legislative hearings, as well as during media interviews. 

Giuliani's conduct, the grievance committee argued, "directly inflamed tensions" that led to the January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, when a mob of Mr. Trump's supporters attempted to stop Congress from reaffirming Mr. Biden's presidential win.

"One only has to look at the ongoing present public discord over the 2020 election, which erupted into violence, insurrection and death on January 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 decision from the court read.

While Giuliani argued an investigation into his conduct violates his First Amendment right of free speech, the court rejected that claim. He also argued he did not make the statements knowing they were false.

The court evaluated false comments Giuliani made casting doubt on the reliability of election results in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona. In addition to citing Giuliani's comments in court proceedings and legislative hearings, the court also referenced his allegations during a well-publicized press conference at Four Seasons Total Landscaping in Pennsylvania just days after the November 3 election.

"We find that there is evidence of continuing misconduct, the underlying offense is incredibly serious, and the uncontroverted misconduct in itself will likely result in substantial permanent sanctions at the conclusion of these disciplinary proceedings," the court said in its decision.

Giuliani, who was admitted to the New York state bar in 1969, is ordered to "desist and refrain from the practice of law in any form" until disciplinary matters pending before the grievance committee conclude. He can object to his suspension.

Giuliani served as the top federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York from 1983 to 1989 but is now facing investigation by federal investigators for his dealings in Ukraine. In April, federal agents executed a search warrant at Giuliani's residence in New York as part of the probe.

The former mayor of New York City, Giuliani emerged as the leader of Mr. Trump's efforts to reverse the outcome of the presidential election in the courts. While he and the former president claimed the elections in several key battleground states were rife with widespread fraud, they failed to produce any evidence to support their allegations and suffered a string of defeats in federal court.

Still, the former president and Giuliani have continue to peddle their false claims, with Giuliani doing so on his radio show on numerous instances in March and April

Andrew Giuliani, Giuliani's son who worked in the White House under Mr. Trump and is running for governor in New York, claimed the decision by the appellate court was driven by politics and bias against the former president.

"This is unacceptable, and I stand by my father," he said in a video posted to Twitter.

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