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US disciplinary panel calls for Rudy Giuliani’s disbarment

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A Washington, D.C.-based bar discipline committee concluded Friday that Rudy Giuliani should be disbarred for “frivolous” and “destructive” efforts to derail the 2020 presidential election in support of former President Donald Trump.

“He claimed massive election fraud but had no evidence of it,” the three-member panel declared in a 38-page decision. “By prosecuting that destructive case Mr. Giuliani, a sworn officer of the Court, forfeited his right to practice law.”

The committee tasked with reviewing Giuliani’s conduct consisted of two D.C. attorneys and one D.C. resident who is not a lawyer. The members deliberated for months after a weekslong series of hearings that featured testimony from Giuliani and several of his close associates. Trump waived attorney-client privilege to permit Giuliani to discuss the matters as well.

Giuliani plans to challenge the panel’s findings and recommended sanction in front of a larger bar-discipline board. His ultimate disbarment or other penalty would be decided by the D.C. Court of Appeals.

“We are obviously disappointed by the Committee’s decision but look forward to filing a vigorous appeal,” said Barry Kamins, one of Giuliani’s attorneys in the bar proceedings.

A spokesperson for the former New York City mayor assailed the panel.

“The decision-makers at the DC Bar Association are nothing more than an arm of the permanent regime in Washington,” said Ted Goodman, a spokesperson for Giuliani. “This is also part of an effort to deny President Trump effective counsel by persecuting Rudy Giuliani—objectively one of the most effective prosecutors in American history. I call on rank-and-file members of the DC Bar Association to speak out against this great injustice.”

In 2021, a state court in New York suspended his right to practice law in that state, citing his actions in the wake of the 2020 presidential election. No final disbarment order against Giuliani has been entered in New York, but bar discipline proceedings in that state are notoriously opaque.

Giuliani, who came to national prominence during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and was sometimes hailed as “America’s mayor,” earlier served as the hard-charging U.S. attorney in Manhattan and as a top official in the Justice Department under President Ronald Reagan.

The D.C. disciplinary panel contended that Giuliani’s efforts to aid Trump’s bid to subvert the 2020 election overshadowed the renowned prosecutor and mayor’s prior record.

“The misconduct here sadly transcends all his past accomplishments,” they concluded. “It was unparalleled in its destructive purpose and effect. He sought to disrupt a presidential election and persists in his refusal to acknowledge the wrong he has done.”

The panel that issued the recommendation Friday consists of two D.C. lawyers, Robert Bernius and Jay Brozost, and one public member, Carolyn Haynesworth-Murrell. No member noted any dissent to the hearing committee’s findings or call for Giuliani’s disbarment.

The D.C. case centered around Giuliani’s role in efforts to undermine the results of the 2020 election in Pennsylvania, where he took a leading role in litigating the matter in federal court.

The disciplinary counsel found that Giuliani’s efforts in Pennsylvania were devoid of any factual merit and sought draconian remedies: throwing out hundreds of thousands of lawful votes in order to boost Trump’s chances of winning the state. Giuliani pressed unsupported claims that third-party observers were improperly denied access to vote counting in some Pennsylvania counties, the panel concluded, suggesting Giuliani violated tenets of Pennsylvania’s rules of professional conduct.

“His hyperbolic claims of election fraud and the core thesis of the Pennsylvania litigation were utterly false, and recklessly so,” the panel concluded. “Mr. Giuliani’s rash overstatement claiming that the election was stolen had no evidence to support it.”

“Respondent … commenced litigation without evidence that its core factual claim was true,” the panel added. “The hearing clearly and convincingly disclosed that there was no such evidence: Respondent based the Pennsylvania litigation only on speculation, mistrust, and suspicion.”

The panel acknowledged that other D.C. lawyers found to have filed frivolous or unsupported cases merely received short suspensions from the bar and did not face the harsh sanction of disbarment, but it said Giuliani’s conduct was far more outrageous.

“The misconduct underlying his violations is immensely more acute. His frivolous claims impacted not only the court and parties involved but threatened irreparable harm to the entire nation,” the committee wrote.

The formal recommendation comes amid a concerted campaign to exact professional consequences for the lawyers who aided Trump’s effort to subvert the 2020 election.

John Eastman, an architect of Trump’s last-ditch bid to upend the election, is in the midst of protracted disciplinary hearings in California, which have now been postponed to late August.

After a nine-month delay, Jeff Clark — a former senior Justice Department official who Trump sought to deputize in service of his efforts to remain in power — was ordered to appear for bar discipline hearings this fall despite his continued efforts to stave off the proceedings.

And Trump campaign attorney Jenna Ellis, who worked closely with Giuliani, reached a settlement with Colorado bar authorities earlier this year, admitting that she repeatedly made false statements about election fraud amid efforts to help Trump stay in power.

Lawyers who aligned with Trump’s effort but operated independently have faced other disciplinary probes and threats of sanctions. One of those lawyers, Lin Wood, recently announced he was retiring from his law practice.

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