Rudy Giuliani is a right-wing lawyer and politician who served as the U.S. attorney general for the Southern District of New York from 1983–89 and as mayor of New York City from 1994–2001.
In 2018 he joined Trump’s personal legal team, becoming embroiled in the then-president’s 2019 efforts to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch a public investigation into Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden in exchange for military aid.
In 2020, after Trump lost his bid for reelection, he appointed Giuliani to spearhead a plethora of baseless legal challenges to the outcome. The former prosecutor—who decades earlier had been held in high regard for his strong moral compass—allied himself with the MAGA cause with such blatant disregard for truth and basic facts that he lost all credibility in the legal profession and among the vast majority of Americans. As of summer 2023, he was purportedly going bankrupt fighting the multiple lawsuits and defamation cases brought against him in conjunction with his fealty to the ex-president.
On Aug. 1, 2023, the Justice Department included Giuliani as an unindicted co-conspirator in its Jan. 6 indictment of Trump. Two weeks later, District Attorney Fani Willis of Fulton County, Georgia indicted him as one of 19 defendants charged in a sprawling “criminal enterprise” aimed at overturning the results of the 2020 presidential election. Giuliani pleaded not guilty to felony charges in that case, but at the end of the month a judge held him liable for defaming two Georgia election workers in a separate case stemming from his extensive efforts to lie for Trump.
In June 2021, the state of New York temporarily suspended Giuliani’s license to practice law, pending possible disbarment following a review of his participation in the attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. A month later, the District of Columbia also suspended his license to practice law there and in July 2023 a disciplinary committee of his peers recommended that he be disbarred.
Giuliani initially gained national attention as NYC’s mayor during and after the 9/11 tragedy and for implementing the “broken windows theory” model of policing, which focuses on petty crime and disproportionately targets poor and minority urban residents. After a failed presidential bid in 2008, he pivoted to focus on GOP political advocacy and legal work. As a consultant during the decade that followed, he advised far-right politicians around the globe, including close affiliates of Serbia’s genocidal Milosevic regime and the murderous Peruvian Fujimora government.
January 6, 2021
- Just before the attack on the Capitol, Giuliani helped fire up the crowd at the Save America rally on the Ellipse in D.C., claiming that Democrats were “hiding evidence” of voter fraud and calling for a “trial by combat.”
- In the days following the attack, Giuliani falsely claimed that antifa was responsible for the violence at the Capitol.
- On Jan. 18, 2022, the House Select Committee investigating the insurrection issued subpoenas to Giuliani, Sidney Powell, Jenna Ellis, and Boris Epshteyn. In a statement, the committee wrote that Giuliani had “actively promoted claims of election fraud on behalf of the former President and sought to convince state legislators to take steps to overturn the election results. He was reportedly in contact with then-President Trump and various Members of Congress regarding strategies for delaying or overturning the results of the 2020 election.”
- In August 2023, Giuliani was listed as unindicted “Co-conspirator 1” in the DOJ’s Jan. 6 indictment against Trump.
- The same month, the district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia indicted Giuliani, Trump and 17 other defendants for participating in a sprawling “criminal enterprise” aimed at overturning the results of the 2020 presidential election.
The Big Lie
- In the weeks leading up to the 2020 presidential election, Giuliani complained about Twitter blocking election disinformation, calling the company “phony guys who fix the elections.”
- On Nov. 8, 2020, Giuliani announced that Trump would not concede the election, saying at a press conference, “Obviously he’s not going to concede when at least 600,000 ballots are in question.” He provided no evidence or basis for this unfounded claim.
- On Nov. 15, 2020, Trump announced that Giuliani would lead the legal campaign to overturn the election, tweeting: “I look forward to Mayor Giuliani spearheading the legal effort to defend OUR RIGHT to FREE and FAIR ELECTIONS!”
- Allies of Trump and his campaign filed more than 60 lawsuits contesting the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election in the months that followed. By Jan. 8, 2021, 63 lawsuits contesting the results of the election had been dismissed by judges, according to Politifact.
- Giuliani orchestrated the high-profile and ultimately failed attempt to overturn the results of the election in Pennsylvania, where he claimed, baselessly, that thousands of “dead people” had cast votes. In one hearing, Giuliani referred to elections officials as “the crooks in Philadelphia”—echoing Trump’s rhetorical attacks on the electoral process in Democratic cities.
- After the Pennsylvania lawsuit was rejected, Trump and Giuliani submitted a revised version of the suit to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. A panel of three judges rejected the lawsuit, arguing that “calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here.”
- According to the New York Times, Giuliani has “cited Mr. [Phil] Waldron as a source of information for his legal campaign.” Waldron reportedly circulated a PowerPoint advising Trump to take extreme measures to overturn the election, including declaring a state of emergency.
- Serving as a personal lawyer to Trump, Giuliani has consistently used Twitter to cast doubts on the electoral process. In a barrage of posts following the 2020 election, he claimed that Democrats, election officials, and voting technology companies had conspired to steal the election from Trump. “Fulton County Democrats stole the election,” he tweeted on Dec. 3, 2020. He continued to spread disinformation about the election throughout 2021 and was still tweeting on Jan. 30, 2022 that “ballot traffickers” had stolen the 2020 election.
- In the months following the election, Giuliani was sued numerous times for spreading false claims about the election. Georgia poll workers, the NAACP, Dominion Voting Systems and voting technology company Smartmatic are among the plaintiffs that have filed suit.
- In June 2021, the state of New York suspended Giuliani’s license to practice law, pending possible disbarment following a review of his participation in attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. In July 2021, the District of Columbia also suspended his license to practice law there.
- In September 2021, documents released by Arizona state lawmakers and other audit facilitators indicate that Giuliani and other Trump aides advised Arizona Republicans on the “fraudit” conducted by the pro-Trump company Cyber Ninjas. In addition to the documents, Arizona State Senator Karen Fann reportedly conferred with Giuliani while attempting to challenge the vote count.
- According to emails between Fann and Christina Bobb of One America News (OAN), Giuliani compiled an argument for the Arizona GOP to use in its efforts to overturn the election.
- In addition to his contributions behind the scenes, Giuliani publicly promoted the Arizona election audit, including on Twitter and on Steve Bannon’s show The War Room.
Post-2020 Election Subversion
- In December 2020, Giuliani reportedly led efforts to install slates of fake electors from seven states to submit votes for Trump in an attempt to overturn the results of the election. In a recording obtained by CNN, Michigan Republican Party chair Meshawn Maddock described the Trump campaign as having orchestrated the scheme: “We fought to seat the electors. The Trump campaign asked us to do that—under a lot of scrutiny for that today.”
- In July 2021, Guiliani and others close to Trump were subpoenaed in a Fulton County, Georgia criminal investigation into attempted election subversion. In December 2020, he had warned members of the Georgia State House, “You cannot possibly certify Georgia in good faith.” In August 2023, the district attorney in Georgia indicted Giuliani on criminal charges for his role in attempting to subvert the election results in that state.