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New York bar association seeks Giuliani ban over his ‘combat’ remarks

Rudolph W. Giuliani speaks in Washington at a rally with the White House in the background before a mob stormed the Capitol.
Rudolph W. Giuliani speaks in Washington at a rally in support of President Trump before a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol.
(Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press)

Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s attorney, is facing possible expulsion from the New York State Bar Assn. over incendiary remarks he made to Trump supporters in Washington last week before some of them violently stormed the U.S. Capitol.

The lawyers organization said Monday that it had opened an inquiry into whether Giuliani should remain a member. Its bylaws state that “no person who advocates the overthrow of the government of the United States” shall remain a member.

At a rally Wednesday in Washington, attended by Trump supporters demanding that Congress not certify President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory, Giuliani told the crowd: “If we’re wrong, we will be made fools of, but if we’re right, a lot of them will go to jail. Let’s have trial by combat.”

Expulsion from New York’s bar association, a voluntary membership organization dating to 1876, is not the same as being disbarred and banned from practicing law. That can be done only by the courts.

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The bar association said Giuliani would be afforded due process and given a chance to explain and defend his words and actions.

A request for comment was left with Giuliani’s spokesperson.

New York state Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Democrat, separately made an official complaint Monday to the state’s courts, asking that disbarring Giuliani be taken up for consideration.

Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, is Trump’s personal lawyer and has played a prominent role in the president’s fight to overturn his loss to Biden on spurious grounds of election fraud. The bar association said it had received hundreds of complaints about Giuliani’s involvement in perpetuating Trump’s baseless claims.

Among the people calling for the bar association to remove Giuliani were Reps. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) and Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), who sent a letter to the organization last week saying that Giuliani’s actions were “absolutely disqualifying from remaining in good standing.”

In a statement Monday, Jones called Giuliani “an embarrassment to attorneys everywhere” and urged the state’s courts to disbar him to ensure that he would “never again use his law degree to destroy lives and undermine our democracy.”

Rudy Giuliani offered baseless claims of fraud at a federal court hearing in Pennsylvania as President Trump’s bid to reverse the election result sputtered.

The bar association said in a statement that Giuliani’s words “quite clearly were intended to encourage Trump supporters unhappy with the election’s outcome to take matters into their own hands.” The association described the violence at the Capitol as “nothing short of an attempted coup, intended to prevent the peaceful transition of power.”

“We cannot stand idly by and allow those intent on rending the fabric of our democracy to go unchecked,” the organization said in a statement.

The bar association isn’t the only organization reconsidering its ties to Giuliani.

Middlebury College in Vermont said Sunday that it is weighing whether to revoke an honorary degree given in 2005 in recognition of Giuliani’s leadership of New York after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.


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