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Giuliani ‘weaponized’ law license in Trump election suit, D.C. Bar argues

Trump adviser should be disbarred over ‘frivolous’ lawsuit, prosecuting attorney says

President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani speaks to reporters outside of the West Wing of the White House in Washington. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
5 min

Former New York City Republican mayor Rudy Giuliani defended his role challenging the 2020 presidential election as President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Monday, after the D.C. Bar accused Giuliani of misusing his law license and called for it to be revoked.

During his testimony before the D.C. Board on Professional Responsibility of the D.C. Bar, Giuliani at times minimized his role in a lawsuit that falsely alleged the November 2020 general presidential election was wrought with fraud in the key state of Pennsylvania after President Biden was declared winner.

Hamilton “Phil” Fox III, the lead prosecuting attorney for D.C. Bar’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel, called Giuliani’s fraud allegations in Pennsylvania “unfounded” and said they misrepresented or took advantage of two unprecedented events affecting the state: Pennsylvania had just started using mail-in ballots for the election, and the coronavirus pandemic forced independent observers to be distanced from poll workers tasked with opening mail-in ballots and reviewing signatures.

Fox argued that although several courts in Pennsylvania found “kinks” in the new voting system in Pennsylvania, there was no evidence of fraud.

Rudy Giuliani suspended from practicing law in D.C. court

Despite such court assertions, Giuliani “weaponized his law license by filing a frivolous lawsuit” and as a result, should have his license suspended or revoked, Fox said.

“There was no case in law nor fact for which Mr. Giuliani set forth on grounds of fraud,” Fox said.

Giuliani’s lawsuit on behalf of Trump seeking to throw out votes cast in the state was rejected by a judge. A federal appeals court refused to let the campaign file a revised complaint.

Giuliani and his attorney, John Leventhal, argued that Trump asked Giuliani to join the case a day after the elections and to “quickly” get up to speed on election results in at least 10 other states, including Michigan, Arizona, Wisconsin, Georgia, Nevada, North and South Carolina, and New Mexico.

Leventhal argued that because Trump’s legal challenge did not go forward, there was no legal reason for Giuliani to have his law license revoked.

“The complaint was not accepted. This was never accepted by the court,” Leventhal said.

Giuliani’s N.Y. law license suspended in connection with efforts to overturn 2020 election

Under cross examination by Fox, Giuliani said another attorney drafted the initial fraud complaint and that he added a “few paragraphs.”

Fox introduced a second complaint that was filed, in which Giuliani said the fraud allegations were removed. But then Giuliani admitted that he instructed to have the fraud allegations added back into the complaint.

Repeatedly during questioning, Fox argued that Giuliani, a former federal prosecutor, was not answering his questions.

“I’m asking you what time it is, and you’re telling me how to make a watch,” Fox said.

The hearing at times became contentious as Giuliani said that Fox was cutting off his answers. Robert Bernius, chairman of the committee hearing the arguments, at one point insisted Giuliani answer the questions posed to him by Fox and reminded him that he would be allowed to explain his answers further under questioning from his own attorney.

“It’s getting a tad too argumentative on both sides,” Bernius admonished. “I would be much appreciative if Mr. Fox would ask the questions and Mr. Giuliani would answer them.”

Giuliani said because the legal challenge happened quickly after the election, there was little time to fully amass evidence supporting their claim. On Tuesday, the second day of testimony, Giuliani said the team put information in the complaint that they believed was accurate at the time, but they expected to obtain the facts later.

He said he believed he was being unfairly targeted.

“I am shocked and offended this is happening to me,” Giuliani said.

Much of the testimony centered on the votes and counting process that took place across Pennsylvania.

Giuliani argued that observers who were supposed to review the mail-in ballots were not allowed to get close to the people counting votes and instead “were being put in pens like they were cows.”

“The only thing we had at this stage of the litigation was that in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, we had a number of ballots that were being counted without any inspection by an independent party,” Giuliani said.

“You have to plead fraud with specificity with what you have, with what is available. But in discovery you get the additional information. This was specific enough for this stage of the pleading. That’s why it’s evidence, and not a conclusion.”

The hearing committee will recommend whether Giuliani should be penalized after hearing evidence from both sides this week.

Any discipline, including suspension of Giuliani’s law license or disbarment, must be imposed by the D.C. Court of Appeals, a process that could take months. This week’s arguments are being held before the Ad Hoc Hearing Committee with the D.C. Bar’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel, part of the D.C. Court of Appeals Board on Professional Responsibility.

In July, the board levied ethics charges against Jeffrey B. Clark, a former Justice Department assistant attorney general who also worked for Trump in his attempt to overturn the 2020 election results.

Giuliani’s New York law license was suspended in June 2021 after a state appeals court found that he made “demonstrably false and misleading” statements that widespread voter fraud undermined the election.

Giuliani has been licensed in the District since 1976.

Testimony in the Giuliani hearings is expected to continue through this week and can be viewed via live on the web. At one point during Monday’s hearing, more than 1,000 viewers were tuned into the YouTube channel.