NEW YORK (AP) — An appeals court suspended Rudy Giuliani from practicing law in New York because he made false statements while trying to get courts to overturn Donald Trump’s loss in the presidential race.
An attorney disciplinary committee asked the court to suspend Giuliani’s license saying 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 court wrote in its decision granting the request. “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 ruling, signed Thursday, will prevent Giuliani from representing clients as a lawyer.
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,” attorneys Barry Kamins and John Leventhal wrote.
In the decision, the court wrote that Giuliani “communicated demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the public at large” as a lawyer for Trump.
Giuliani claimed the investigation into his conduct violated his First Amendment right of free speech and that he did not knowingly make false statements, according to the decision.
The court rejected those arguments, noting that in Pennsylvania, Giuliani failed 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.”
Giuliani was the primary mouthpiece for Trump’s lies after the 2020 election, standing at a press conference in front of Four Seasons Total Landscaping outside Philadelphia on the day the race was called for Biden and saying they would challenge what he claimed was a vast conspiracy by Democrats.
The lies around the 2020 election helped push an angry mob of pro-Trump rioters to storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in a shocking effort to stop the certification of President Biden’s victory. And since that time, Republicans have used that lie to push stricter voting laws nationwide.
The suspension comes as Giuliani is under scrutiny by federal prosecutors over his interactions with figures in Ukraine while he was trying to get that country to launch an investigation of Biden’s son.
Federal agents raided Giuliani’s home and office in April, taking electronic devices including phones and computers.
The investigation includes an examination of whether Giuliani was required to register as a foreign agent in the U.S. Some of the Ukrainian figures Giuliani was worked with were also interested in getting his help lobbying the Trump administration to dismiss the U.S. ambassador to that country.
Giuliani could also face consequences in Georgia, where he made statements to legislative committees casting doubt on the legitimacy of that state’s election that are cited in the New York court’s decision. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has opened a criminal investigation into potential attempts to influence the 2020 election in Georgia, including looking into “the making of false statements to state and local governmental bodies.”
The suspension won’t affect Giuliani’s ability to act as a lobbyist or do security consulting, but will likely will prevent him from practicing law in jurisdictions even beyond New York, said David S. Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor.
Giuliani would be obligated to tell other states about the suspension, he said, which “in all likelihood will cause them to say, ‘You won’t be able to practice here.’”