The D.C. Bar’s disciplinary counsel on Thursday recommended that Rudy Giuliani be disbarred after a hearing panel tentatively determined he likely violated at least one professional conduct rule during his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Pennsylvania.
The panel said its determination was preliminary and nonbinding, and because of that it declined to specify what charge Giuliani had likely violated. It will release a final decision later after hearing recommendations related to what sanctions Giuliani, who contested the election results as former President Donald Trump’s lawyer, should receive, assuming the preliminary finding stands.
Hamilton “Phil” Fox, of the District of Columbia Office of Disciplinary Counsel, called for Giuliani’s disbarment after the panel announced its tentative finding, saying Giuliani tried to undermine the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election.
“Any lawyer that engages in this kind of misconduct, harming the country as this has done, has at least got to realize that his or her law license is at risk,” Fox said.
At the conclusion of the proceedings, Giuliani expressed outrage towards the panel for allowing Fox to assert what he characterized as a “personal attack.” While airing a series of grievances, Giuliani defended his attempts to contest the 2020 election results, which he continues to claim he had reason to believe was rigged.
John Leventhal, Giuliani’s lawyer, argued for a just a minor disciplinary measure, like a letter of reprimand or private admonition, arguing that the disciplinary counsel’s arguments rely heavily on politics.
“We feel that the least serious discipline should be imposed, otherwise you’re going to chill effective advocacy in the future,” Leventhal said.
The panel is set to issue a final report with its recommendations to the D.C. Bar’s Board on Professional Responsibility, which will decide whether to accept the recommendation after both sides make further filings. The District of Columbia Court of Appeals will make the final determination on any disciplinary action toward Giuliani.
The action comes after Giuliani defended his work on a lawsuit that sought to toss the 2020 election results in the state at a hearing before a committee of the D.C. Board on Professional Responsibility last week. The lawsuit was rejected by a judge, and a federal appeals court refused to allow the campaign to file a revised complaint.
During the hearing before the D.C. panel, Hamilton “Phil” Fox of the district’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel told the panel that Giuliani, a former New York City mayor and U.S. attorney in Manhattan, “weaponized his law license to bring a frivolous action in an attempt to undermine the Constitution.”
Giuliani’s attorney, John Leventhal, argued that his client shouldn’t face charges because the judge in the Pennsylvania case did not accept and never considered the sole version of the complaint that Giuliani signed.
A New York appellate court suspended Giuliani’s law license last year, saying he made “demonstrably false and misleading” statements about the 2020 election while serving as Trump’s lawyer. Giuliani’s D.C. law license was temporarily suspended after the New York decision.