President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer won’t be part of the defense team in the Senate trial for his second impeachment. Rudy Giuliani, who has been leading the president’s failed efforts to prove baseless claims of voter fraud, said he wouldn’t represent Trump because he was involved in the Jan. 6 rally that preceded the riot at the Capitol. “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.
Giuliani issued a statement saying he “may be a witness” and that means “the rules of legal ethics would prohibit me from representing the president as trial counsel in the impeachment trial.” At the Jan. 6 rally, Giuliani fired up the crowd by calling for “trial by combat.” He later defended those words by saying they were a reference to the television show Game of Thrones.
The announcement comes after a bit of back-and-forth over the weekend. Giuliani had said he was working on the president’s defense and said he was ready to argue the president’s case. Giuliani said there were disagreements about how Trump should be defended but said that he wanted to argue the validity of voter fraud allegations. But Trump’s team had other ideas, and a spokesman quickly tweeted out a statement saying the president had yet to decide “which lawyer or law firm” would represent him.
Trump reportedly started telling people around him Sunday that Giuliani would not represent him. That was the same day veteran Republican strategist Karl Rove said in a television interview that Trump’s chances of conviction would increase if he was defended by Giuliani. It’s still unclear who will actually represent the president, considering many attorneys have refused to take his case.