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Giuliani pleads not guilty to serious crimes in Arizona election interference case

PHOENIX – 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 Arizona election loss to Joe Biden.

Giuliani appeared remotely for the arraignment, which was held in a Phoenix courtroom. His trial will take place in October.

Former Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward and at least 11 other people were also indicted Tuesday on charges of conspiracy, forgery and fraud in a Phoenix court. She and nine other people have so far pleaded not guilty. His trial date is set for October 17, about three weeks before the US election.

During his remote appearance, Giuliani said he did not have a lawyer at this time but will have one. When asked by the court if he needed an attorney appointed for his arraignment, Giuliani said, “No, no, I think I’m capable of handling it myself.”

Giuliani said he received a subpoena but did not have a copy of the indictment. However, he said he is familiar with the charges from reading about them.

Arizona authorities tried unsuccessfully for several weeks to notify Giuliani of the accusation against him. Giuliani was finally treated Friday night while walking to a car after his 80th birthday celebration in Florida.

On Tuesday, in response to prosecutors’ request for a $10,000 cash bail after describing the difficulty of turning Giuliani over in the case, Giuliani said: “I have quite a few threats, including death threats, and already I don’t have security… .so I have very strict rules about who gets up and who doesn’t.”

The judge required Giuliani to post a $10,000 secured appearance bond and appear in Arizona within the next 30 days for booking proceedings.

Arizona authorities unsealed felony charges last month against Republicans who submitted a document to Congress falsely declaring that 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 that Ward, a former state senator who led the Republican Party in Arizona from 2019 to early 2023, organized the fake electors and urged then-Vice President Mike Pence to declare them as the state’s true electors. He says Ward was unable to withdraw his vote as a false elector even though no legal challenge 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 indicted and pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Trump himself was not charged in the Arizona case, but was labeled an unindicted accomplice.

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

The 11 people claiming to be Arizona Republican electors gathered in Phoenix on Dec. 14, 2020, to sign a certificate saying they were “duly elected and qualified” electors and affirming that Trump won the state. At the time, the Arizona Republican Party posted a one-minute video of the signing ceremony on social media. The document was later sent to Congress and the National Archives, where it was ignored.

Of eight lawsuits that unsuccessfully challenged Biden’s victory in the state, one was filed by Arizona’s 11 false electors, who had asked a federal judge to decertify the results and prevent the state from sending its results to the Electoral College. In dismissing the case, the judge concluded that the Republicans “had failed to provide the court with factual support for their extraordinary claims.” Days after that lawsuit was dismissed, the 11 participated in the signing of the minutes.

Those to be arraigned Tuesday are Ward; Tyler Bowyer, executive of the conservative youth organization Turning Point USA; State Senator Anthony Kern; Greg Safsten, former executive director of the Arizona Republican Party; Robert Montgomery, former chairman of the Cochise County Republican Committee; Samuel Moorhead, Republican precinct committeeman in Gila County; Nancy Cottle, who in 2020 was the first vice president of the Arizona Federation of Republican Women; Loraine Pellegrino, former president of Ahwatukee Republican Women; Michael Ward, an osteopathic doctor married to Ward; attorneys Jenna Ellis and Christina Bobb; and Michael Roman, who was Trump’s 2020 Election Day operations director.

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