After the rabbit-hole atmosphere of the Trump years, there was some comforting normalcy in an appellate court’s decision last week to suspend Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, from practicing law in New York state because of the demonstrable vote-fraud lies he has foisted on the court system and on America. Giuliani’s permanent disbarment should follow, and other Trump lawyers who participated in that dangerous sham should face the same sanction.
Attorneys are supposed to diligently represent the interests of their clients, but they’re not allowed to deliberately lie — in courtrooms or elsewhere in the public sphere. As the New York court noted in its 33-page ruling suspending Giuliani’s license, the infraction is worse when the lie undermines democracy itself.
The ruling charts in meticulous detail Giuliani’s toxic lies after November’s election. It notes that he claimed, publicly and repeatedly, that Pennsylvania sent out 1.8 million absentee ballots to voters but got back 2.5 million completed ballots, driving his claim of 800,000 fraudulent votes. In fact, the court notes, the state sent out more than 3 million ballots; Giuliani’s claim to the contrary is “simply untrue.”
Ditto with other bogus Giuliani allegations: that tens of thousands of dead people voted in Philadelphia; that voting machines in Georgia manipulated the numbers; that a security video Giuliani publicized, purporting to show illegal ballots being spirited into an empty ballot-counting room, had been meticulously edited so viewers wouldn’t know the ballots were already there and that the room was full of people.
These and other examples laid out in the ruling weren’t merely a lawyerly spinning of facts by Giuliani. The president’s attorney just plain lied — again and again and again — to judges and to the public, in a quest to overturn a valid election.
Tellingly, Giuliani’s defense arguments don’t claim his lies were true, only that he didn’t know they were false when he said them. That defies belief, given the outlandish nature of his claims and the utter lack of evidence for them.
In an interview last week, Giuliani offered another defense: that his lies did no damage. “Obviously, those statements do not have the impact of creating danger,” he told Newsmax.
Is he kidding? No one believes the insurrectionists of Jan. 6 were whipped up solely by that day’s rally near the Capitol. Their attack on democracy was fueled by months of steady lies from Trump and his cohorts, Giuliani chief among them. As the court’s ruling notes: “False statements intended to foment a loss of confidence in our elections and resulting loss of confidence in government generally damage the proper functioning of a free society.”