Rudy Giuliani says his 'trial by combat' comment during Trump's January 6 rally was a 'Game of Thrones' reference, not a call to violence

Julie Gerstein
  • President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani told The Hill on Tuesday that he was making a "Game of Thrones" reference when he told a crowd at Trump's January 6 "Save America" rally that "we will have a trial by combat."

  • "I was referencing the kind of trial that took place for Tyrion in that very famous documentary about fictitious medieval England," Giuliani told the reporter Brett Samuels. "When Tyrion, who is a very small man, is accused of murder. He didn't commit murder, he can't defend himself, and he hires a champion to defend him."

  • Giuliani insisted the comment "incited no violent response from the crowd."

  • The New York State Bar Association has opened up an inquiry into whether Giuliani should be disbarred after the rally.

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Nearly a week after calling for "trial by combat" at the Washington, DC, rally that directly preceded the riot at the US Capitol, Rudy Giuliani says he was just making a "Game of Thrones" reference and not calling for a violent battle.

Giuliani, the personal attorney of President Donald Trump, was among several people including Trump and Donald Trump Jr. who spoke in front of hundreds of protesters outside the White House on the afternoon of January 6 as part of the "Save America" rally.

Trump overtly encouraged attendees at the rally to march to the Capitol, which many of them did in what turned into a deadly riot. At least five people, including a police officer, died in connection to the insurrection.

At the rally, Giuliani repeated baseless claims about election fraud and told the audience: "If we are wrong, we will be made fools of, but if we're right, a lot of them will go to jail. So let's have trial by combat."

Speaking with The Hill on Tuesday, Giuliani told the reporter Brett Samuels that he was just making a "Game of Thrones" reference.

"I was referencing the kind of trial that took place for Tyrion in that very famous documentary about fictitious medieval England," Giuliani told Samuels. "When Tyrion, who is a very small man, is accused of murder. He didn't commit murder, he can't defend himself, and he hires a champion to defend him."

It's unclear who Giuliani is referring to as the Tyrion in this story.

Giuliani went on to say he was actually referring to a "trial between machines," an allusion to the legal battles Trump had waged against Dominion Voting Systems. The president, along with Giuliani and the lawyer Sidney Powell, has often baselessly claimed that the voting machines were rigged against him.

"I'm talking about trial between machines," he continued. "In fact, you'll see it comes up exactly in the context of I challenge them to allow us to examine their machines. And then I say the consequences of the trial by combat will be if they prove that we're wrong, we'll be exceedingly embraced - we'll be disgraced. If we prove that they're wrong, they go to jail."

Giuliani went on to say his trial-by-combat comment was not a call to violence.

"It incited no violent response from the crowd," he told Samuels. "None. The crowd didn't jump up saying, 'Lock him up, throw him to jail, go to hell.' I've had speeches where people jump up and say, 'lock him up.' It was not an emotional - it was not an emotion-inspiring part of the speech."

Just an hour after Giuliani spoke, and Trump encouraged the crowd to "walk down to the Capitol" to "cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we're probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them," a mob of the president's supporters forced their way into the Capitol, where Congress was in session.

"You'll never take back our country with weakness," Trump told the crowd. "You have to show strength, and you have to be strong."

Read more: GOP kicks Trump to curb after deadly Capitol insurrection, leaving president to fend for himself during his historic second impeachment

During his interview with The Hill, Giuliani repeated claims that the election was fraudulent and said the president bore "no responsibility" for the Capitol insurrection. He also baselessly claimed the Capitol breach was led by leftists impersonating Trump supporters and criticized House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy for saying otherwise.

Axios had reported earlier that McCarthy told Trump during a heated call on Monday that the mob consisted not of antifa but of "MAGA" supporters, a reference to Trump's Make America Great Again slogan. "I know," he continued, "I was there."

"Kevin McCarthy doesn't know what the hell he's talking about," Giuliani told The Hill. "He doesn't investigate. He's part of the Washington establishment. They make up the truth and they repeat it to each other. You think they ever bother to investigate?"

Emails to both Giuliani and McCarthy were not immediately returned.

Giuliani may be disbarred over his involvement in the insurrection

Though Giuliani argues his statements weren't meant to rile the mob, several institutions have distanced themselves from him in recent days.

The New York State Bar Association has opened up an inquiry into whether Giuliani should be disbarred. The bylaws of the association say "no person who advocates the overthrow of the government of the United States, or of any state, territory or possession thereof, or of any political subdivision therein, by force or other illegal means, shall be a member of the Association."

Several members of Congress, including Reps. Mondaire Jones and Ted Lieu, sent a letter to the association urging it to disbar the former New York City mayor.

On Wednesday, Middlebury College announced it was revoking Giuliani's honorary degree over what it described as his role in "fomenting the violent uprising against our nation's Capitol."

Read the full story at The Hill »

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