A New York court suspended former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s law license in that state for making “demonstrably false and misleading statements” about the 2020 presidential election results to the courts and the public at large, while serving as former President Donald Trump’s lawyer.
In a 33-page order, the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court described the suspension as “immediate,” but “interim” — pending disciplinary proceedings before the court’s Attorney Grievance Committee, which initiated the action against Giuliani.
The appellate court noted that “misconduct alone” isn’t grounds for suspension. It also requires evidence that the misconduct is “an immediate threat to the public interest.”
“We find that there is evidence of continuing misconduct, the underlying offense is incredibly serious, and the uncontroverted misconduct in itself will likely result in substantial permanent sanctions at the conclusion of these disciplinary proceedings,” the court explained in its order.
The court, in an opinion that reads like a fact-checking article, singled out several examples of Giuliani’s falsehoods. We have written about some of those, as well as several others. Here we provide a recap of some of Giuliani’s false and misleading election fraud claims.
Pennsylvania ‘Fraud’ Case Without Evidence of Fraud
The New York court order cited Giuliani’s Nov. 17 appearance before a federal court in the matter of Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. v Boockvar.
As we have written, Giuliani — without providing evidence — described the lawsuit at the hearing as a part of “nationwide voter fraud” involving “at least 10 other jurisdictions.” U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann asked Trump’s lawyer, “So you are alleging fraud?” Giuliani responded, “Yes, your honor.”
But later Giuliani, a former federal prosecutor, admitted to Brann that the amended complaint did not allege fraud at all.
“Respondent repeatedly represented to the court that his client, the plaintiff, was pursuing a fraud claim, when indisputably it was not,” the New York court wrote, referring to Giuliani as the respondent in its order. “Respondent’s client had filed an amended complaint before the November 17, 2020 appearance in which the only remaining claim asserted was an equal protection claim, not based on fraud at all.”
In his Nov. 21 order dismissing the case, Brann criticized the Trump campaign for seeking to prevent Pennsylvania from certifying its election results without presenting any evidence to support such a “drastic remedy.”
“One might expect that when seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption,” Brann wrote. “Instead, this Court has been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence. In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state.”
Baseless Claim of Underage Voters in Georgia
The court noted that Giuliani on multiple occasions baselessly claimed on his radio show, “Chat with the Mayor,” that there were thousands of underage voters who illegally voted in Georgia — even after the state declared the claim to be false.
“At various times, respondent claimed that 65,000 or 66,000 or 165,00 underage voters illegally voted in the Georgia 2020 election,” the court said in its order. “The Georgia Office of the Secretary of State undertook an investigation of this claim. It compared the list of all of the people who voted in Georgia to their full birthdays. The audit revealed that there were zero (0) underage voters in the 2020 election.”
Trump made the same claim at a rally on the day the U.S. Capitol was attacked by a mob of pro-Trump supporters who — in the words of Sen. Mitch McConnell — were “fed wild, falsehoods” about the election results “by the most powerful man on earth.”
As we wrote at the time, Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s voting system implementation manager, said at a Jan. 4 press conference that there were four people who “requested their absentee ballot before they turned 18.” However, he said, “they turned 18 by the Election Day,” making each of them legally cast ballots. “The actual number” of underage voters “is zero,” he said.
According to the New York court order, Giuliani repeated this false claim “at least on January 5, January 7, and January 22, 2021,” which was after Sterling’s Jan. 4 press conference, and again on April 27, which was after the Attorney Grievance Committee filed a motion to suspend Giuliani.
Unsupported Claims of ‘Illegal Aliens’ Voting in Arizona
In its order, the New York court said Giuliani “made false and misleading statements that ‘illegal aliens’ had voted in Arizona during the 2020 presidential election” — providing estimates at various times that ranged from 32,000 to a “few hundred thousand.”
Supreme Court of the State of New York, Apellate Division, First Judicial Department, June 24: On November 30, 2020, respondent appeared before a group of Arizona legislators at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Phoenix. It was acknowledged during that session that no statewide check on undocumented noncitizens had been performed. In other words, there was no data available from which to draw any conclusion about undocumented noncitizens. Nonetheless, respondent persisted in stating, during that same session, that there were “say” five million “illegal aliens” in Arizona and that “[i]t is beyond credulity that a few hundred thousand didn’t vote . . . .
… Respondent argues that he reasonably relied on Arizona State Senator Kelly Townsend, who respondent claims collected information on noncitizen voters.
We wrote about that Nov. 30 hearing once before (when Trump made a claim of illegal voting in Arizona at the rally prior to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol).
At the Nov. 30 meeting, Townsend told Giuliani there were about 36,000 registered voters in Arizona who haven’t verified their citizenship and “could potentially vote.” These are known as “federal only” voters. As the Arizona secretary of state’s website explains, “A person is not required to submit proof of citizenship with the voter registration form, but failure to do so means the person will only be eligible to vote in federal elections (known as being a “federal only” voter).”
C. Murphy Hebert, a spokeswoman for the Arizona secretary of state, told us in January that it is wrong to assume that “federal only” voters are not U.S. citizens.
“These voters are registered to vote in accordance with federal voting rights laws, attesting to their eligibility, including their citizenship, under penalty of perjury,” Hebert said. “It is flat out wrong to say that they are not legal voters.”
No Evidence of Dead People Voting in Philadelphia
The order notes that Giuliani “repeatedly stated that dead people ‘voted’ in Philadelphia in order to discredit the results of the vote in that city. He quantified the amount of dead people who voted at various times as 8,021; while also reporting the number as 30,000.”
We looked into this issue when, in an interview on Fox News on Nov. 8, Giuliani called Philadelphia “an epicenter of voter fraud” and said “we’re going to be looking at dead persons’ ballots, which may actually be very, very substantial.”
As we wrote then, claims of dead people voting are often overblown after elections. In some cases, it is a matter of a relatively small number of people dying in the period between when they sent in a mail-in ballot and Election Day. More commonly, claims about large numbers of votes from deceased people turn out to be due to list-matching or clerical problems, such as confusing two people with identical or similar names, Charles Stewart III, a political science professor at MIT who specializes in elections, told us via email.
The Trump campaign never provided any evidence that thousands of ballots were cast by people who have died.
The court order noted that Giuliani “has not provided this tribunal with any report or the results of any investigation which supports his statements about how many dead voters he claims voted in Philadelphia.”
Election experts say cases of people voting fraudulently for people who have died do occasionally happen. In October, a Luzerne County man — a registered Republican — was charged with felonies after trying to apply for a mail-in ballot in his dead mother’s name. But such cases are quite rare.
The court order states that Giuliani’s attorneys argued his statements were “justified because the state of Pennsylvania subsequently agreed to purge 21,000 dead voters from its rolls in 2021.” But as we have written, just because voting rolls are updated to purge deceased people doesn’t mean any of them actually voted fraudulently.
‘Suitcases’ of Ballots in Georgia
The order says that Giuliani “represented that video evidence from security cameras depicted Georgia election officials engaging in the illegal counting of mail-in ballots. … The gist of his claim was that illegal ballots were being surreptitiously retrieved from suitcases hidden under a table and then tabulated.”
We wrote about this claim in early December after the Trump campaign presented the video to Georgia state lawmakers and Giuliani wrote on Twitter: “The video tape doesn’t lie. Fulton County Democrats stole the election. It’s now beyond doubt.”
But state officials told us at the time that the full video shows the supposed “suitcases” were actually standard containers used to secure ballots, and that the ballots in question were opened and prepared for counting earlier in the night in full view of observers. They said the campaign presented limited, selective parts of the footage.
Dominion Voting System Claims
The New York order called out Giuliani for making “extensive and wide-ranging claims about Dominion Voting Systems Inc.’s voting machines manipulating the vote tallies to support his narrative that votes were incorrectly reported” in Georgia.
We wrote about this in late November after Trump repeated the conspiracy theory that Dominion Voting Systems had switched “thousands of votes” from him to President-elect Joe Biden. Trump claimed these were cases of “theft” not “glitches.” A group of federal, state and local officials overseeing the nation’s voting system refuted such claims back on Nov. 12, hours after Trump tweeted them.
“There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised,” said the Elections Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council and the Election Infrastructure Sector Coordinating Executive Committees. The joint statement from the groups described the 2020 election as “the most secure in American history.”
That statement was distributed by Trump’s own administration: the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security. Five days after that statement, Trump fired the head of CISA, Christopher Krebs.
As the order notes, Giuliani’s (and Trump’s) claims about Dominion manipulating the vote tally in George were belied by hand recounts done in the state.
In a Nov. 29 interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Krebs, a Republican, said that the use of paper ballots gave officials the ability to “check the tape.”
“That gives you the ability to prove that there was no malicious algorithm or hacked software that adjusted the tally of the vote, and just look at what happened in Georgia,” Krebs said. “Georgia has machines that tabulate the vote. They then held a hand recount and the outcome was consistent with the machine vote.”
Dominion Voting Systems sued Giuliani and Sidney Powell, who also represented Trump, saying they advanced false claims of election fraud that implicated the company following the 2020 election. Those lawsuits are ongoing.
The court order said there were “other instances of [Giuliani’s] misconduct” not discussed in the order, because they felt the ones they did detail were sufficient to make their case for an interim suspension.
Indeed, in addition to the claims highlighted above, we have written about numerous other false and misleading claims Giuliani has made about the 2020 election.
For example, there was Giuliani’s bogus claim that voters in the Democratic counties of Allegheny and Philadelphia in Pennsylvania “were allowed to fix” ballot errors, but those in Republican areas “were given no such right.”
Giuliani also advanced the baseless claims that 50,000 votes held on USB cards in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, were missing; that a slew of precincts in Michigan were found to have more votes than voters; and that an election technology company called Smartmatic was the source of nationwide fraud. All of those claims are false.
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