Jan. 11 (UPI) -- The New York State Bar Association said Monday it will open a historic inquiry on removing attorney Rudy Giuliani from its membership after receiving complaints.
The NYSBA noted the move follows the personal lawyer for President Donald Trump repeating Trump's baseless claims of widespread election fraud in the presidential election and Georgia U.S. Senate runoffs to a crowd of thousands at a pro-Trump rally at the White House on Wednesday.
"If we're wrong, we will be made fools of, but if we're right, a lot of them will go to jail," Giuliani also said to the same crowd hours before the deadly U.S. Capitol riot. "Let's have trial by combat."
The riot at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday was "orchestrated by individuals bent on subverting the will of the voters by disrupting the certification of the 2020 presidential election results," NYSBA said in a statement. "But the president did not act alone."
"Mr. Giuliani's words quite clearly were intended to encourage Trump supporters unhappy with the election results to take matters into their own hands," the NYSBA statement said. "Their subsequent attack on the Capitol was nothing short of an attempted coup, intended to prevent the peaceful transition of power."
The NYSBA added in its statement that its decision to pursue an inquiry into removing Giuliani from its membership was also based on hundreds of complaints it received in recent months regarding Giuliani's baseless efforts on Trump's behalf to sow doubt about the presidential election results.
"As widely reported, these efforts included the commencement and prosecution of court action in multiple states without any evidentiary basis whatsoever," the statement said. "In each and every instance, these actions were appropriately dismissed by the courts in which they were brought."
NYSBA President Scott Karson has opened the inquiry pursuant to the association's bylaws, which state that "no person who advocates the overthrow of the government of the United States, or of any state, territory or possession thereof, or of any political subdivision therein, by force or other illegal means, shall be a member of the association."
The inquiry won't affect Giuliani's ability to practice law, a group spokesperson told NPR, because the NYSBA is a voluntary association and attorneys could only be disbarred with the approval of a state court committee.
Still, the NYSBA emphasized the decision to even pursue an inquiry was "historic."
"This decision is historic for NYSBA, and we have not made it lightly," its statement Monday said. "We cannot sit idly by and allow those intent on rending the fabric of our democracy to go unchecked."
Giuliani will be given time "to explain and defend his words and actions," according to the NYSBA.