Court suspends Giuliani’s law license, citing his lies about Georgia election fraud

Credit: Rebecca Wright for the Atlanta J

Credit: Rebecca Wright for the Atlanta J

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, an ex-federal prosecutor who was Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, was suspended Thursday from practicing law in New York after a court ruled he made “demonstrably false and misleading statements” about 2020 election results in Georgia and other battleground states.

The 33-page decision found that Giuliani’s attempts to overturn Trump’s election defeat by promoting lies about widespread fraud and rigged voting machines had also “directly inflamed” the violent movement that led to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

“The seriousness of respondent’s uncontroverted misconduct cannot be overstated,” read the decision by the New York State appellate court. “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 decision repeatedly invoked Giuliani’s efforts to subvert Biden’s narrow victory in Georgia, mentioning the state 35 separate times. The court wrote that Giuliani’s attempt to discredit Georgia’s election was “knowingly made with the object of casting doubt on the accuracy of the vote.”

During a seven-hour legislative hearing in December organized by state Senate Republicans, Giuliani repeated false conspiracy theories about the veracity of Georgia’s voting system and promoted lies about illegal voters from “dead” people, felons and others that were debunked by state authorities.

He also pushed a bogus narrative that there were ballots hidden in suitcases in Fulton County, an allegation undermined by hours of video evidence.

State and federal elections officials found no evidence of widespread irregularities. Three separate tallies of the results confirmed Biden’s victory, an audit of absentee ballot signatures found no cases of fraud, and pro-Trump lawsuits were dismissed from court.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, vilified by Giuliani and other Trump supporters for refusing to invalidate Georgia’s election, applauded the court’s decision.

“The judges recognized that the baseless conspiracy theories Giuliani repeated were not true and punished him for spreading lies, particularly about Georgia’s election,’ he said in a statement. “This decision backs up my own statements about Georgia’s election being fair and accurate.”

Giuliani’s December visit to Georgia irked other GOP state leaders, including Gov. Brian Kemp. The first-term Republican called Giuliani’s attack on an audit of absentee ballot signatures in Cobb a “joke” and said the former mayor treated state Troopers at the Capitol with disrespect.

“We don’t appreciate that down here in Georgia,” Kemp said. “That’s not how we treat people down here.”

Days after the visit, state senators who attended the hearing were urged to quarantine for two weeks because Giuliani had tested positive for Covid-19. The Republican did not wear a mask while in the Capitol and was in close personal contact with lawmakers and others.

“We are clearly disappointed that Mayor Giuliani disregarded the health and well-being of others by not wearing a mask when it clearly would have been appropriate,” said Senate President Pro Tem Butch Miller, now a candidate for lieutenant governor, at the time.

Giuliani can appeal the court’s decision to suspend his law license, though it’s not immediately clear if he will. His attorneys expressed disappointment with the ruling in a statement that called the court’s decision “unprecedented” and said they were confident he would be reinstated.

Giuliani is set to return to Georgia next week, though not as part of any legal case. He is headlining a fundraiser for Vernon Jones, a renegade Democrat who is trying to remake himself as a far-right conservative and is challenging Kemp in the Republican primary.