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Giuliani, other Trump allies arraigned in Arizona election case

SOPHIE PARK/THE NEW YORK TIMES
                                Rudy Giuliani speaks to reporters before a campaign event for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in Manchester, N.H., on Jan. 21. Giuliani and 10 other allies of Donald Trump were arraigned and entered not-guilty pleas today in an Arizona criminal case that charges them with trying to keep Trump in power after he lost the 2020 presidential election.
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SOPHIE PARK/THE NEW YORK TIMES

Rudy Giuliani speaks to reporters before a campaign event for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in Manchester, N.H., on Jan. 21. Giuliani and 10 other allies of Donald Trump were arraigned and entered not-guilty pleas today in an Arizona criminal case that charges them with trying to keep Trump in power after he lost the 2020 presidential election.

PHOENIX >> Rudy Giuliani and 10 other allies of Donald Trump were arraigned and entered not-guilty pleas today in an Arizona criminal case that charges them with trying to keep Trump in power after he lost the 2020 presidential election.

Giuliani, who appeared virtually at his arraignment, was ordered by the court to appear in person within 30 days and pay a $10,000 appearance bond. Those conditions, which were not imposed on other defendants, came after prosecutors said Giuliani had taken numerous steps to evade their attempts to serve him with notice of his indictment.

During the hearing, Giuliani, formerly Trump’s personal lawyer, called the indictment “a complete embarrassment to the American legal system.” A state prosecutor, Nicholas Klingerman, said that Giuliani “has shown no intent to comply with the legal process in Arizona for this case.”

A total of 50 people — including Trump, who has locked up the Republican nomination in the 2024 presidential race — now face charges related to election interference in four states. A number of Trump allies have already pleaded guilty or reached cooperation agreements in cases in Georgia and Michigan.

The arraignments today took place at a courthouse in downtown Phoenix, in a case brought by state Attorney General Kris Mayes, a Democrat. The defendants who appeared in person included Christina Bobb, a Trump campaign adviser in 2020 who is now the election integrity counsel for the Republican National Committee, and Kelli Ward, a former head of the Arizona Republican Party.

All of the defendants in the Arizona case are charged with conspiracy, fraud and forgery, and all of those who have been arraigned so far have pleaded not guilty. Others will be arraigned next month, including Boris Epshteyn, who is one of Trump’s main lawyers, and Mark Meadows, a former White House chief of staff.

The first to be arraigned in the case was John Eastman, a lawyer who helped hatch a plan to deploy fake electors for Trump in swing states that he lost; Eastman was arraigned in Phoenix last week.

Trump has not been charged in the Arizona case. He is listed as “Unindicted Co-conspirator 1” in the indictment. Asked why the state had not charged Trump, Klingerman said that was “a question for the grand jury — I prefer not to comment on that.”

Giuliani, a former mayor of New York City, was one of three defendants who appeared without a lawyer, though he said he would get one. He has faced severe financial strains; he filed for bankruptcy protection in December after he was ordered to pay $148 million in damages to two former Georgia election workers who were inundated with threats after he falsely accused them of fraud.

He was the last of the Arizona defendants to be served a notice of his indictment, a procedural step to inform him of his scheduled arraignment.

In the courtroom today, prosecutors cited how long it took them to locate and serve him as a reason to order him to appear in the state and pay a bond.

“Rudy Giuliani has made numerous statements over the past month discussing the indictment, his co-defendants and, quite frankly, mocking the justice system in Arizona,” Klingerman said after the hearing. He added that “my agents attempted to serve the summons” at Giuliani’s New York City apartment, but “were refused entry,” and that the former mayor had not returned numerous telephone calls.

During his virtual appearance today, Giuliani said, “I haven’t been hiding from anyone.” He added, “The reason for the difficulty to get up to my apartment in New York is it’s a 10-story apartment, I have a fair number of threats, including death threats, and I don’t have security any longer since I’ve been in bankruptcy.”

Klingerman said that after the indictment was made public, a note was sent down to the door attendant of Giuliani’s apartment building directing the staff not to allow anyone up to his penthouse.

Last Friday, Giuliani posted on the social platform X a photo of himself, captioned: “If Arizona authorities can’t find me by tomorrow morning: 1. They must dismiss the indictment; 2. They must concede they can’t count votes.” The photo, which the prosecution displayed during the hearing today, has since been deleted from X.

Giuliani was served his notice later that evening, after leaving a party for his 80th birthday in Florida.

“The final defendant was served moments ago,” Mayes wrote in a social media post Friday night. “@RudyGiuliani nobody is above the law.”

Prosecutors asked for a $10,000 cash bond, but the court instead ordered an appearance bond, for which a defendant can use a bail bondsman. Even so, Giuliani was not pleased: “I think it would be outrageous if you set a bond in this completely political case,” he said during the hearing.

Bonds were required of none of the other defendants. Thomas F. Jacobs, a lawyer for Bobb, said the case had numerous flaws and would not succeed against any of the defendants. “You have to prove it to a Maricopa County jury, which will have members of both parties,” he said, adding, “I can’t logically see it as anything other than a political move.”

Mayes secured indictments of all 11 people who served as fake Trump electors in Arizona, as well as seven Trump advisers. Trump and several of the same advisers were among those who have been charged in a similar case in Fulton County, Georgia. The attorneys general of Michigan and Nevada have brought charges focusing solely on the people who signed up to be fake electors in those states.

None of the cases are seen as likely to go to trial before November, ensuring that the legal battle over Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election will still be going on after the 2024 election.

Giuliani was directly involved in efforts to reverse Trump’s loss at the polls in Arizona. Rusty Bowers, a former Arizona House speaker, has testified that Giuliani and Trump pressured him to get the state Legislature to review the Arizona vote.

Bowers testified that Giuliani made numerous claims of ballot fraud during a phone call on Nov. 22, 2020, and promised to provide evidence of the supposed fraud, but never did. “Aren’t we all Republicans here?” Bowers recalled Giuliani saying. “I would think we would get a better reception.”

In a meeting on Dec. 1, 2020, according to Bowers’ testimony, Giuliani was searching for ways to decertify the Arizona election results. Bowers said Giuliani told him in the meeting, “We don’t have the evidence, but we have lots of theories.”

“We all looked at each other and said: Did he really say that?” Bowers told members of Congress.

Bowers ultimately rebuffed the efforts to interfere with Arizona’s election results.

Ward’s involvement started “almost immediately after the election,” according to the indictment, when she sent messages to Republicans on the Maricopa County board of supervisors and urged them to delay certifying the results. She and her husband, Michael, who also faces charges, both acted as fake electors.

So far, the defendants in the various cases have generally not challenged evidence showing the steps taken by Trump and his allies to cling to power despite his defeat. Instead, they have claimed that their actions were protected by the First Amendment or by immunity, or they have argued that they were merely planning for the possibility that the Trump campaign would prevail in legal challenges to Biden’s victory.

Brad Miller, a lawyer for Ward and her husband, said after their arraignments that they had done nothing illegal by acting as pro-Trump electors.

“What they’re attempting to do is exercise their constitutional right for peaceable protest, their constitutional right for redress of grievances of their own government,” Miller said outside the courthouse. “That should be celebrated. It shouldn’t be criminalized.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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