Just one day after the Rudy Giuliani told ABC News that he was actively working on the president’s impeachment defense, it appears Donald Trump’s personal attorney will not be playing a role on his legal team, ABC reported on Monday morning. While the real reason Giuliani was left off the team is not clear, attorneys seemed to agree that his offered rationale did not tell the whole story.
Giuliani attributed his sudden departure to his role in the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, D.C. that immediately preceded the storming of the U.S. Capitol by hundreds of Trump supporters.
“Because I gave an earlier speech [at the rally], I am a witness and therefore unable to participate in court or in the Senate chamber,” Giuliani told ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl.
Giuliani’s bellicose speech, which occurred just before the riots, invoked violent imagery and relied heavily on false conspiracy theories that the 2020 election was stolen from President Trump.
“Over the next 10 days, we get to see the machines that are crooked, the ballots that are fraudulent,” he told rallygoers. “And if we’re wrong, we will be made fools of. But if we’re right, and lot of them will go to jail. So — let’s have trial by combat.”
"Over the next 10 days, we get to see the machines that are crooked, the ballots that are fraudulent. And if we're wrong, we will be made fools of. But if we're right, and lot of them will go to jail. So — let's have trial by combat" — Giuliani pic.twitter.com/QAYvnplCj7
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 6, 2021
While Giuliani referred to himself as a “witness,” a pair of former federal prosecutors said Giuliani is more like an investigative “subject.”
“Rudy is being generous calling himself a ‘witness.’ More like ‘subject,’” said CNN legal analyst Elie Honig—a notion that was seconded by his former SDNY colleague and current Westchester County District Attorney Mimi Rocah.
Other attorneys noted that Giuliani’s fraying relationship Trump, who has directed aides not to pay Giuliani for legal work, likely played a role in the impeachment legal team drama.
“Translation: He still won’t pay me,” wrote New York-based criminal defense attorney Scott Greenfield.
Translation: He still won't pay me. https://t.co/tDLrT7tGWr
— Scott Greenfield (@ScottGreenfield) January 18, 2021
UC Berkeley law professor Orin Kerr said the reversal may reflect that Giuliani is on the outs with the president.
“This is not the can-do enthusiasm of a Rudy who expects a complete pardon on Tuesday morning,” he wrote.
This is not the can-do enthusiasm of a Rudy who expects a complete pardon on Tuesday morning. https://t.co/wtaNJBp0U3
— Orin Kerr (@OrinKerr) January 18, 2021
Whatever the explanation for Giuliani’s absence from Trump’s defense squad, the legal community was in agreement that Trump is better off not having the former NYC mayor coming to his defense in the Senate.
“Removing Giuliani from the Trump legal team is addition by subtraction,” former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti wrote, wondering, “But is there any competent lawyer left who is willing to defend Trump?”
Removing Giuliani from the Trump legal team is addition by subtraction. But is there any competent lawyer left who is willing to defend Trump? https://t.co/xP8tmb5GjF
— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) January 18, 2021
As previously reported by Law&Crime, respected law firms and attorneys have almost universally abandoned Trump, leaving him with very limited options that include stocking his impeachment defense team with non-attorneys such as Reps. Jim Jordan and Elise Stefanik.
Some allies have also told Trump that he will need to take some responsibility for inciting the riot if he wants a serious lawyer to defend him, which he has indicated he doesn’t want to do. https://t.co/u69Dd0kNwB
— Rebecca Ballhaus (@rebeccaballhaus) January 18, 2021
I’m only half-joking: Maybe the Senate should offer to appoint (and pay for) a (good!) lawyer for Trump. https://t.co/1yuYANNlEU
— Greg (@Greg651) January 18, 2021
Jordan graduated from Ohio’s Capital University Law School in 2001, but subsequently decided not to sit for any states’ bar exam. Stefanik graduated with a degree in government from Harvard in 2006 and has never received any formal legal training.
[image via C-SPAN screengrab]
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]