Lawyers for Rudy Giuliani — who exhorted Trump supporters in Washington on the day of the Capitol riot to “have trial by combat” — are now arguing that he wasn’t literally advocating for an insurrection over the 2020 election results.
The assertion comes in Giuliani’s response to a lawsuit filed by Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell seeking to hold Giuliani, former President Donald Trump and others accountable for inciting the violent siege on January 6 at the US Capitol.
In a court filing Monday, Giuliani wrote that his words to Trump supporters were “hyperbolic.” The former New York City mayor also said in his court filing that the core of the insurrection was orchestrated by pro-Trump extremist groups to whom he had no connection.
“Plaintiff would have the Court believe that what the FBI has been unable to do — tie Defendants to a vast conspiracy to mastermind the attack on the Capitol — Plaintiff will accomplish through this litigation. This is simply too far-fetched and outlandish to pass the plausibility standard of the law,” Giuliani’s court argument said.
As Trump’s personal lawyer, Giuliani was a central figure in Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, spreading unfounded claims of fraud earlier this year in public appearances and in court. He spoke at the January 6 pro-Trump rally just before supporters marched across the National Mall with the intention of overtaking a congressional session to certify Joe Biden as the next president.
“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, a lot of them will go to jail,” he told the crowd that day. “So, let’s have trial by combat.”
In addition to Giuliani, Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr., and Republican Rep. Mo Brooks were also sued by Swalwell, a California Democrat who helped lead the House impeachment arguments against Trump for inciting insurrection.
Swalwell’s lawsuit filed in March cites a civil rights law meant to counter the Ku Klux Klan’s intimidation of elected officials. He also alleges Trump, Trump Jr., Giuliani and Brooks broke Washington, DC, laws, including an anti-terrorism act, by inciting the riot, and that they aided and abetted violent rioters and inflicted emotional distress on the members of Congress.
Giuliani is also a defendant in a similar lawsuit, filed by Mississippi Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson in his personal capacity, in which he’s accused of conspiring with the far-right groups Proud Boys and Oath Keepers to incite the January 6 insurrection.
The US House recently struck a deal to form an independent, bipartisan commission to examine the January 6 attack “facts and causes” along with the “influencing factors that may have provoked the attack on our democracy.”
The former New York City mayor has also been the focus of an investigation concerning his activities in Ukraine, including whether he conducted illegal lobbying for Ukrainian officials while he pursued an investigation linked to Biden, CNN has reported. Giuliani hasn’t been charged and has denied wrongdoing.