The New York State Bar Association on Monday announced it was launching an inquiry into whether to remove Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney and the former mayor of New York, from its ranks following the insurrection at the Capitol last Wednesday.
Saying blame for the violence “lies first and foremost with” Trump, the association added that the president “did not act alone,” pointing to Giuliani’s comments from the pro-Trump rally held blocks from the Capitol just prior to the riot. Giuliani made a slew of false claims about election fraud as well as Vice President Mike Pence’s role in the Electoral College vote-counting process.
Claiming that evidence of election fraud was a mere 10 days away from finally becoming public, Giuliani said, “if we’re wrong, we will be made fools of.”
“But if we’re right, a lot of them will go to jail,” he added. “So, let’s have trial by combat. I’m willing to stake my reputation, the president is willing to stake his reputation on the fact that we’re going to find criminality there.”
Separately, New York state Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Democrat and the chairman of the state Senate’s judiciary committee, formally requested that Giuliani’s law license be revoked “his participation and role in fomenting a violent insurrectionist attack,” according to a letter sent to court on Monday and shared with NBC News.
The letter, sent to the grievance committee with the First Judicial Department of the Appellate Division in the state Supreme Court, said the attack on the Capitol “was the foreseeable culmination of increasingly outrageous lies and disinformation being peddled by Mr. Giuliani and many of his associates” and urging the grievance committee to disbar the president’s personal attorney.
Removal from a voluntary state bar association, before disbarment by the courts, is extremely rare.
“We believe the last time we removed a member who hadn’t been disbarred was 1904,” Susan DeSantis, an association spokesperson told NBC News. “We have had our current bylaws that set up the process for removing a member since the 1970s, and we have never used them to remove an attorney who hadn’t already been disbarred.”
The NYSBA said it has “received hundreds of complaints in recent months about Mr. Giuliani and his baseless efforts on behalf of President Trump to cast doubt on the veracity of the 2020 presidential election and, after the votes were cast, to overturn its legitimate results.”
The group said it has “a responsibility to defend and protect the rule of law.”
“Based on these complaints, and the statement Mr. Giuliani uttered shortly before the attack on the Capitol, NYSBA President Scott M. Karson has launched an inquiry pursuant to the Association’s bylaws to determine whether Mr. Giuliani should be removed from the membership rolls of the Association,” the organization said.
NYSBA bylaws state “no person who advocates the overthrow of the government of the United States, or of any state, territory or possession thereof, or of any political subdivision therein, by force or other illegal means, shall be a member of the Association.”
The organization said it found 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.”
“Their subsequent attack on the Capitol was nothing short of an attempted coup, intended to prevent the peaceful transition of power,” the organization added, saying that Giuliani “will be provided due process and have an opportunity — should he so choose — to explain and defend his words and actions.”
Giuliani did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The former mayor, one of Trump’s staunchest defenders, became central in the president’s efforts to discredit the yearslong investigation into Russian electoral interference and dig up dirt on President-elect Joe Biden in Ukraine, which ultimately led to Trump’s impeachment. Since the 2020 election, he has been Trump’s top ally in spreading and promoting the false claims of widespread fraud in swing states.
Trump and his allies have fallen short in dozens upon dozens of court cases where they sought to have the election results overturned or ballots invalidated. Giuliani himself even argued in court as a part of this effort.
In the days since the Capitol riot, Giuliani has condemned violence on Twitter, though he is continuing to promote false claims about voter fraud as well as baseless accusations that antifa activists were involved in the attack.
Jane C. Timm contributed.
New York State Bar Association moves to oust Rudy Giuliani The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ NBC News.