WASHINGTON – Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and lead campaign lawyer for Donald Trump, faces a disciplinary hearing Thursday in the District of Columbia that could lead to his disbarment for challenging the results of the 2020 election with “no factual or legal basis.”
The hearing is the latest move to sanction lawyers who worked for or with Trump’s campaign to challenge election results. A half-dozen lawyers were sanctioned financially, another was censured, one surrendered his law license and at least two others face potential disbarment.
The disciplinary case against Giuliani contends he betrayed his oath and his country “without remorse.” But Giuliani blamed flaws in a federal lawsuit in Pennsylvania, which is at the heart of the disciplinary case, on local lawyers and asked for a less severe punishment than disbarment.
Giuliani provided ‘no factual or legal basis’ for claims of election fraud
The D.C. Court of Appeals Board on Professional Responsibility, the body authorized to discipline lawyers, has already temporarily suspended Giuliani’s law license in July 2021 after New York suspended his practice in that state.
The latest complaint focuses on a federal lawsuit in Pennsylvania in November 2020 that sought to invalidate up to 1.5 million mail-in ballots from the 2.6 million cast in the state. President Joe Biden won Pennsylvania by 80,555 votes.
“There was no factual or legal basis” for the claims Giuliani made or for the remedy he sought, according to disciplinary lawyers.
During an oral argument in the case, Giuliani accused Democrats of stealing the election without evidence. He argued that mail ballots were improperly counted based on “false or faulty statistics and analysis,” according to disciplinary lawyers. The 300 affidavits or declarations of fraud he cited were “unsupported” or were isolated incidents that couldn’t have offset Biden’s 80,000-vote winning margin, according to disciplinary lawyers.
“Well, they stole, they stole an election, at least in this commonwealth,” Giuliani said. “The conduct was egregious. The conduct was premeditated.”
Disciplinary lawyers: Giuliani’s misconduct undermined the Constitution
Giuliani should be disbarred because his misconduct undermined the Constitution and discouraged voters from having faith in election results, according to D.C. disciplinary lawyers who summarized the evidence for the professional board. Even in 1860, before 11 states seceded in the Civil War, lawyers hadn’t tried to overturn the election, the disciplinary lawyers wrote.
“Never before, even in 1860, has a lawyer representing the losing side sought to subvert the electoral process and put into office a candidate who clearly lost,” disciplinary lawyers Hamilton Fox, Jack Metzler and Jason Horrell wrote.
Giuliani ‘utterly without remorse’
The U.S. District Court was “unable to find any case” with “such a drastic remedy in the context of an election.” The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also rejected the plea, calling it “unprecedented” and saying the Trump campaign cited “no authority for this drastic remedy.”
D.C. disciplinary lawyers argued Giuliani violated rules of professional conduct by bringing a frivolous case.
“Mr. Giuliani’s lawsuit was an effort to undermine democracy. He has held many high offices, and his conduct after September 11, 2001, was estimable,” the disciplinary lawyers wrote. “But he is utterly without remorse, and there is no reason to believe that if the opportunity arose again, he would not betray his oath and his country again. Such a person should not have the privilege of practicing law.”
Giuliani argued that neither the District Court nor the federal appeals court sanctioned him for filing a frivolous case. He blamed flaws in how the lawsuit was filed on local lawyers and asked for “a less drastic sanction than disbarment.”
“Although the arguments were ultimately rejected, is (Giuliani) to be disbarred for making what he believed, at the time, to be valid arguments on behalf of a client who is despised by a substantial portion of the country?” his lawyers John Leventhal and Barry Kamins asked in a legal filing. “While the arguments failed, (Giuliani) did the best he could under difficult circumstances.”
Trump lawyers face criminal charges, censure, fines and potential disbarment
Giuliani is one of at least 11 lawyers who worked to overturn the results of the 2020 election and now face disciplinary proceedings in addition to criminal charges in some cases.
Giuliani is a co-defendant with Trump in an election racketeering case in Georgia, where he pleaded not guilty. Giuliani was found liable in a federal civil lawsuit of defaming two Georgia election workers, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, who he wrongly accused of improperly counting ballots.
Other disciplinary cases include:
Jeffrey Clark, a former assistant attorney general who is a co-defendant of Giuliani and Trump in a Georgia election racketeering case, faces disciplinary proceedings before the D.C. board.
Jenna Ellis, was censured by the Colorado bar for making false statements about the election. She pleaded guilty to a handful of misdemeanors in the Georgia case.
John Eastman, a Georgia co-defendant who helped develop the strategy of recruiting fake presidential electors for Trump, faces potential disbarment in California after June hearings.
Sidney Powell, a Georgia co-defendant who pleaded guilty to six misdemeanors, was sanctioned with five other lawyers were a combined $152,000 over a Michigan lawsuit challenging election results. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld U.S. District Judge Linda Parker’s ruling that the lawsuit was filled with “speculation and conjecture.” A Texas judge threw out potential disbarment proceedings against Powell there.
Lin Wood, who worked on the Michigan lawsuit, surrendered his Georgia law license rather than face possible disbarment.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Rudy Giuliani fights DC disbarment over Trump 2020 election challenges