NATIONAL NEWS

Ex-NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani pleads not guilty to felony charges in Arizona election interference case

May 20, 2024, 10:05 PM | Updated: May 21, 2024, 4:40 pm

PHOENIX (AP) — Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani pleaded not guilty Tuesday to nine felony charges stemming from his role in an effort to overturn Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss in Arizona to Joe Biden.

Ten others, including former Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward, also pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, forgery and fraud charges related to the case. Giuliani appeared remotely for the arraignment that was held in a Phoenix courtroom. His and Ward’s trials are scheduled for Oct. 17, about three weeks before the U.S. election.

The indictment alleged Giuliani spread false claims of election fraud in Arizona after the 2020 election and presided over a downtown Phoenix gathering where he claimed officials made no effort to determine the accuracy of presidential election results.

It also accused him of pressuring Maricopa County officials and state legislators to change the outcome of Arizona’s results and encouraging Republican electors in the state to vote for Trump in mid-December 2020.

During his remote appearance, Giuliani said he did not have an attorney, and that he felt capable of handling the arraignment himself.

Giuliani said he received a summons but did not have a copy of the indictment. He said he is familiar with the charges, though, by reading about them.

Arizona authorities tried unsuccessfully over several weeks to serve Giuliani notice of the indictment against him. He was finally served Friday night as he was walking to a car after his 80th birthday celebration in Florida.

On Tuesday, prosecutors requested a $10,000 cash bond after outlining efforts by Arizona authorities since April 23 and the difficulties they faced. The judge instead required Giuliani to post a secured appearance bond of $10,000 as well as appear in Arizona within the next 30 days for booking procedures. A cash bond would have meant Giuliani would have to pay the court $10,000, while a secured appearance instead lets him offer up a security worth $10,000 to post bond. “He has shown no intent to comply with the legal process in Arizona,” prosecutor Nicholas Klingerman said in asking for the bond.

Investigators weren’t allowed to go up to Giuliani’s New York residence, a doorman at the building refused to accept the documents and voicemails left for Giuliani weren’t returned, Klingerman said.

The prosecutor said before the notice was delivered, Giuliani mentioned the Arizona case on a podcast, telling listeners he found it hilarious that Arizona investigators were having difficulty finding him. “This is perfect evidence that if they’re so incompetent (that) they can’t find me, they also can’t count votes correctly,” he said, according to Klingerman.

Giuliani responded that he hadn’t been hiding from Arizona authorities, saying he has strict rules about who can walk up to his residence given he’s been the target of death threats and doesn’t have security personnel. He also called the indictment political.

“I do consider the indictment to be a complete embarrassment to the American legal system,” Giuliani said. Moments later Court Commissioner Shellie Smith, who was presiding over the hearing, tried to interrupt Giuliani but he kept talking.

After Tuesday’s arraignments, Giuliani spokesperson Ted Goodman said the former New York City mayor looks forward to being vindicated.

“These charges are essentially a cut and paste version of what they’re attempting to use to interfere with the 2024 Election and to take down President Trump and anyone willing to take on the permanent Washington political class,” Goodman said.

Arizona authorities unveiled the felony charges last month against Republicans who submitted a document to Congress falsely declaring Trump, a Republican, had won Arizona. The defendants include five lawyers connected to the former president and two former Trump aides. Biden, a Democrat, won Arizona by more than 10,000 votes.

The indictment alleges Ward, a former state senator who led the GOP in Arizona from 2019 until early 2023, organized the fake electors and urged then-Vice President Mike Pence to declare them to be the state’s true electors. It says Ward failed to withdraw her vote as a fake elector even though no legal challenges changed the outcome of the presidential race in Arizona.

Last week, attorney John Eastman, who devised a strategy to try to persuade Congress not to certify the election, was the first defendant in the case to be arraigned, pleading not guilty to the charges.

Trump himself was not charged in the Arizona case but was referred to as an unindicted co-conspirator.

Arizona is the fourth state where allies of the former president have been charged with using false or unproven claims about voter fraud related to the election.

The 11 people who claimed to be Arizona’s Republican electors met in Phoenix on Dec. 14, 2020, to sign a certificate saying they were “duly elected and qualified” electors and asserting that Trump carried the state. A one-minute video of the signing ceremony was posted on social media by the Arizona Republican Party at the time. The document was later sent to Congress and the National Archives, where it was ignored.

The other people who pleaded not guilty Tuesday included Tyler Bowyer, an executive of the conservative youth organization Turning Point USA; state Sen. Anthony Kern; Greg Safsten, a former executive director of the Arizona Republican Party; Robert Montgomery, a former chairman of the Cochise County Republican Committee; Samuel Moorhead, a Republican precinct committee member in Gila County; Nancy Cottle, who in 2020 was the first vice president of the Arizona Federation of Republican Women; Loraine Pellegrino, past president of the Ahwatukee Republican Women; Michael Ward, an osteopathic physician who is married to Ward; and attorney Christina Bobb.

Two other defendants — attorney Jenna Ellis and and Michael Roman, who was Trump’s 2020 director of Election Day operations — were scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday, but ultimately didn’t appear at the hearing. Their lawyers had requested postponements. It’s unclear from the court record whether the judge had ruled on that request.

Arraignments are scheduled for June 6 for state Sen. Jake Hoffman; on June 7 for former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows; and on June 18 for Trump attorney Boris Epshteyn and for James Lamon, another Republican who claimed Trump carried the state.

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Ex-NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani pleads not guilty to felony charges in Arizona election interference case