Lawyers Across The Country Urge Bar Associations To Investigate Trump’s Legal Team
Arguing that “a license to practice law is not a license to lie,” nearly 1,500 lawyers issued a letter on Monday calling on bar associations across the country to investigate and, if needed, penalize the members of President Trump’s legal team, including the architect of his post-election strategy, Rudolph W. Giuliani. Lawyers Across The Country Urge Bar Associations To Investigate Trump’s Legal Team
“It is indefensible for lawyers to falsely proclaim widespread voting fraud, submit a pattern of frivolous court claims and actively seek to undermine citizens’ faith in our election’s integrity,” said the letter, which was signed by several former judges, former federal prosecutors and law professors. “We condemn this conduct without reservation.”
The letter comes as Mr. Trump and his Republican allies have lost or withdrawn from nearly 50 legal challenges to this year’s election, including five in five different states within about three hours on Friday evening alone. Even so, Mr. Trump’s lawyers and those representing his Republican allies have continued filing lawsuits, igniting criticism that they are acting frivolously, even irresponsibly.
In their letter on Monday, the signers noted that Mr. Giuliani — who recently tested positive for Covid-19, according to President Trump — has made baseless arguments in public about “massive fraud” in the election, but has tempered his claims under questioning in court, saying he was not alleging fraud.
“Mr. Giuliani’s aim is obvious,” the letter said. “To fuel Mr. Trump’s campaign to delegitimize the outcome of the election.”
Among the signers were Philip Lacovera, a former deputy solictor general who worked on the case that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon; Stephen Gillers, a professor of legal ethics at New York University; and Thomas Vanaskie, a former judge with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, in Philadelphia.
The letter also took aim at another lawyer for Mr. Trump, Joseph DiGenova, who late last month publicly threatened Christopher Krebs, the former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, who was fired by Mr. Trump after he declared that the 2020 elections were “the most secure in American history.”
During an interview on the conservative TV outlet Newsmax, Mr. DiGenova said that because of Mr. Krebs’s remarks he should be “taken out at dawn and shot.”
For the moment, only a handful of challenges to the election are still moving through the courts, including an emergency petition by Mike Kelly, a Republican congressman from Pennsylvania, requesting that the Supreme Court hear his appeal of a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the state’s election results.
There are also state cases still alive in Georgia and Arizona and a federal case filed by the Trump campaign in Wisconsin. Sidney Powell, a former lawyer for Mr. Trump whom the campaign has disavowed, has filed four more federal cases of her own — in Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan and Arizona. On Monday, a federal judge dismissed Ms. Powell’s Georgia case after a hearing in Atlanta, and another judge in Michigan denied her emergency request to overturn the state’s election.
All of the remaining efforts are running out of time to succeed. On Tuesday, the nation will reach the so-called safe harbor deadline, the date by which all state-level election challenges are supposed to be completed.
Then on Dec. 14, the Electoral College will cast its votes, making any attempt to overturn the results of the election nearly impossible.
New York State Bar Association Weighs Stripping Giuliani of Membership
Legal group cites complaints about President Trump’s personal attorney in recent months.
The New York State Bar Association said it has opened an investigation into whether it should eject Rudy Giuliani from the organization, an extraordinary move that follows President Trump’s personal attorney’s role on the day of the Capitol Hill riot last week.
The move wouldn’t lead to Mr. Giuliani’s disbarment but would still be a remarkable rebuke for a lawyer who once served as the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, one of the most powerful law-enforcement roles in the country. The organization, with a membership of more than 70,000, according to its website, is the largest voluntary bar association in the U.S.
While any lawyer who is disbarred is automatically stripped of membership, a spokeswoman for the organization, Susan DeSantis, said this is the first time the group has opened an inquiry into a current member since it adopted its bylaws in the 1970s.
The bar association said its inquiry will examine whether Mr. Giuliani’s actions during and after the presidential election violated the organization’s bylaws. The bar association said it had received hundreds of complaints in recent months about Mr. Giuliani stemming from his “baseless efforts” to cast doubt on the presidential election and overturn its results.
Last week, as Congress gathered to certify the results of the election, Mr. Giuliani spoke to crowds of thousands of Trump supporters at a Washington, D.C. rally, urging them to fight on. The bar association cited Mr. Giuliani’s exhortation to the crowds at Mr. Trump’s rally: “Let’s have trial by combat.”
The ralliers then marched on the Capitol, where hundreds broke through a thin police line and overran the building, disrupting Congress’s ratification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. The riot left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer and a Trump supporter shot by police.
The bar association referred to its bylaws, which hold that nobody “who advocates the overthrow” of the U.S. government can be a member. “The subsequent attack on the Capitol was nothing short of an attempted coup,” the bar association’s statement said.
Mr. Giuliani didn’t respond to requests for comment. The bar association said Mr. Giuliani would be provided due process and a chance to explain himself.
The bar association placed blame for the riot primarily on Mr. Trump, who first expressed sympathy for the rioters but has since condemned it as a “heinous attack.” Separately, on Monday, the organization called for Mr. Trump to be removed from office.
In the weeks after the election was called for Mr. Biden, Mr. Giuliani led efforts to have the results overturned. In lawsuits, news conferences and court appearances, Mr. Trump’s legal team disseminated conspiracy theories and unproven allegations of election fraud.
The courts rejected dozens of claims brought by Mr. Giulian and Mr. Trump’s allies.
On multiple occasions, judges—appointed by both Democrats and Republicans—criticized Mr. Giuliani and other attorneys for the claims.
New York lawyers don’t have to be members of the bar association to practice law. The decision to strip a lawyer’s license to practice law in New York State rests with the attorney grievance committee of New York state’s appellate division, whose proceedings are confidential.
Mr. Giuliani faces at least one formal complaint seeking to strip him of his law license. U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Democrat of New Jersey, filed a complaint to the quasigovernmental body in November, saying Mr. Giuliani’s conduct during the election violated state rules. The attorney grievance committee process is confidential.
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