NEW YORK (NewsNation Now) — The New York State Bar Association announced on Monday that it is reviewing Rudy Giuliani’s membership and possible expulsion based in part on incendiary remarks during a rally speech leading to violent riots at the U.S. Capitol.
In a statement, the NYSBA disclosed it has received hundreds of complaints in recent months about Giuliani’s work to perpetuate President Donald Trump’s unfounded claims of widespread election fraud as Trump’s personal attorney. Numerous state and federal officials, including former U.S. Attorney General William Barr, have said there was no evidence of fraud on a scale massive enough to have affected the outcome.
Removal from the bar association, a voluntary membership organization dating to 1876, is not the same as being disbarred and banned from practicing law. That can only be done by the courts.
At a rally before the riot, Trump repeated his false claim that he had won the election and told supporters to march to the Capitol and “stop the steal.” Giuliani also gave a speech at the rally, saying, “Let’s have trial by combat.”
NYSBA President Scott M. Karson has launched an inquiry pursuant to the association’s bylaws to determine whether Giuliani should be removed from their membership rolls.
Included in NYSBA’s bylaws are that “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 association said that the riots at the Capitol were “nothing short of an attempted coup” and 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.”
“We cannot stand idly by and allow those intent on rending the fabric of our democracy to go unchecked,” the organization said.
Sources have said that Trump may turn to Rudy Giuliani to defend him against possible impeachment over last week’s violent siege of the U.S. Capitol, according to Reuters.
One of the sources, an outside adviser to the White House, said Giuliani was expected to play a lead role in any impeachment effort.
Giuliani, 76, led the legal team that tried unsuccessfully to overturn Trump’s election defeat. It failed to produce any evidence of significant fraud and lost dozens of court cases in key battleground states and at the Supreme Court before President-elect Joe Biden’s victory was confirmed.
The former mayor of New York City did not respond to NewsNation’s request for comment.
Democratic members of the House of Representatives introduced a single article of impeachment, “incitement of insurrection,” against President Trump Monday.
If the House votes to impeach Trump, he would then face a trial in the Senate. While a House vote could come quickly, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has suggested that there would be no Senate trial until after Trump leaves office.
Giuliani has been an outspoken Trump supporter since his first run for president. He became a personal lawyer for him during the Robert Mueller probe, which found that Trump impeded the investigation but stopped short of concluding he had committed a crime.
Giuliani’s own pressure on Ukraine was in question during Trump’s impeachment trial last year.
Some lawmakers have said Giuliani should be disbarred.
Other lawyers who defended Trump in the earlier impeachment including Ken Starr, Jane Raskin and Robert Ray would not say whether they would do so again.
Ray, a former independent counsel, said he saw inciting violence as a viable legal theory, but that Trump’s defense would likely be that he was trying to make a political point, not harm anyone or incite violence.
“Reasonable people could disagree about that,” said Ray.
Reuters contributed to this report: Reporting by Karen Freifeld and Steve Holland; additional reporting by Jeff Mason. The Associated Press contributed to this report: Michael R. Sisak reporting.