On Thursday, New York State barred Rudolph W. Giuliani from practicing law, months after the former New York mayor fought to have the presidential election results overturned on Trump’s behalf.
Giuliani is unfit to practice law, according to a committee of First Department Appellate Division judges, because he “communicated demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers, and the public at large in his capacity as lawyer for [Trump] and the Trump campaign in connection with Trump’s failed reelection bid in 2020.” On the subject, the panel delivered a 33-page opinion.
According to the ruling, Giuliani’s behavior “immediately threatens the public interest and warrants interim suspension from the practice of law,” according to the court’s disciplinary committee, which handled complaints against him and supervised arguments in the case.
Giuliani was defended by retired judges John Leventhal and Barry Kamins.
“This is unprecedented as we believe that our client does not pose a present danger to the public interest,” they said in a statement. “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.”
Giuliani, a former high-ranking federal prosecutor, is under investigation by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, which he formerly headed.
Investigators are looking into whether he neglected to register as a foreign agent in recent years while working with Ukraine.
In late April, investigators obtained a search warrant that allowed them to take 18 of his electronic devices from his home and workplace.
In his contacts with Ukraine and on behalf of the former president, he has categorically denied any wrongdoing.
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During a 40-minute phone call in 2019, Giuliani, acting as Trump’s personal lawyer, repeatedly pressured the Ukrainian government to probe Democrat Joe Biden, according to an audio recording acquired by CNN.
During a conference call with US ambassador Kurt Volker and Andriy Yermak, a senior aide to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, Giuliani can be heard demanding a probe against Biden, who defeated Trump in the 2020 election.
A public statement, according to Giuliani, would “clear the air pretty well” and allow Zelensky and Trump to meet.
“And I think it would make it possible for me to come and make it possible, I think, for me to talk to the President (Trump) to see what I can do about making sure that whatever misunderstandings are put aside,” Giuliani said on the recording. “I kinda think that this could be a good thing for having a much better relationship.”
Congressional testimony during Trump’s first impeachment hearings highlighted how he sought an investigation on his Democratic opponent, who would go on to defeat him in the 2020 election. By withholding military aid from an ally when Ukraine was under Russian siege, Trump wanted an investigation into Biden and his son, Hunter.
“All we need from the President [Zelensky] is to say, ‘I’m gonna put an honest prosecutor in charge, he’s gonna investigate and dig up the evidence that presently exists, and is there any other evidence about the involvement of the 2016 election,’ and then the Biden thing has to be run out,” Giuliani said. “Somebody in Ukraine’s gotta take that seriously.”
The core of Trump’s first impeachment was his own summarized call with Zelensky in July 2019, in which he urged the Ukrainian president to “do us a favor” by investigating Biden and his son, Hunter, whose appointment to the board of directors of a Ukraine energy company, Burisma, had been the subject of a corruption allegation.
There was no evidence of a conspiracy, and no charges were filed.
Trump has asserted that his decision was “great,” but House Democrats have accused him of trying to use his office’s power to investigate a political opponent.
Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives on charges of abuse of authority and obstruction of Congress. Trump, on the other hand, was acquitted by the Senate.
The Giuliani tape illustrates the extent to which he exerted pressure as part of the campaign.
According to congressional testimony, Giuliani is under criminal investigation for his role in private diplomatic negotiations in which U.S. State Department officials were directed to defer to him in contacts with Ukraine. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two of his associates, are facing other campaign-related accusations.
During the impeachment hearing, Gordon Sondland, Trump’s ambassador to the European Union, stated that there was a “quid pro quo” that Ukraine would receive military aid in exchange for probing Biden.
Trump said of Sondland: “I don’t know him very well.”
Last month, Sondland filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for $1.8 million in legal bills incurred throughout the inquiry.
Biden invited Zelensky to the White House in July, according to Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser.
“I have come into this briefing room from the Oval Office where President Biden was on the phone with President Zelensky of Ukraine,” Sullivan said. “They had the opportunity to talk at some length about all of the issues in the U.S.-Ukraine relationship. And President Biden was able to tell President Zelensky that he will stand up firmly for Ukraine sovereignty, territorial integrity, and its aspirations as we go forward.”