The New York State Bar Association is launching an inquiry into expelling Rudy Giuliani from its membership over his role in inciting the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol last week.
The Bar Association said Monday it has received hundreds of complaints about Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney and the former mayor of New York City. Its president, Scott 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 group said in a statement.
The Bar Association cites Giuliani’s speech to a group of thousands of Trump supporters outside the White House before they headed for the Capitol, where he repeated baseless claims that election fraud is to blame for Trump’s loss.
“If we’re wrong, we will be made fools of, but if we’re right a lot of them will go to jail,” Giuliani, the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, said. “Let’s have trial by combat.”
The bylaws of the Bar Association prevent membership for anyone who advocates the overthrow of the United States government or of any state or locality by force or illegal means. Expulsion from the association would not affect Giuliani’s ability to practice law in the state.
“Mr. Giuliani’s words quite clearly were intended to encourage Trump supporters unhappy with the election’s outcome to take matters into their own hands,” the association said in its statement. “Their subsequent attack on the Capitol was nothing short of an attempted coup, intended to prevent the peaceful transition of power.”
As part of the inquiry, Giuliani will have the opportunity to explain his actions if he chooses. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“This decision is historic for NYSBA, and we have not made it lightly,” the group said. “We cannot stand idly by and allow those intent on rending the fabric of our democracy to go unchecked.”
While only a court can actually disbar Giuliani, it has been more than a century since the group last expelled a lawyer who had not already been disbarred: It last happened in 1904, the association estimates. It set up its current bylaws outlining the process for removing a member in the 1970s and has only used them for lawyers already stripped of their license.
State Sen. Brad Hoylman said he will file a formal complaint with the Appellate Division of the state court system asking them to revoke Giuliani’s law license.
Giuliani’s “participation in a scheme to unlawfully overturn the results of a free and fair election and his complicity in inflaming a violent coup attempt on our seat of federal government” adds up to “rampant and egregious violations” of the rules of professional conduct governing attorneys in the state, Hoylman (D-Manhattan) said Monday.
“There can be no room in the profession for those who seek to undermine and undo the rule of law,” he said. “I’ll do the same for any other attorney licensed in New York who was found to have participated in last week’s assault on our democracy. There must be consequences for seditious acts.”