Rudy Giuliani.
Rudy Giuliani. (Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM)

Greenberg Traurig sought to distance itself from its most high-profile partner, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, after he told Fox News that he was involved in initial planning for President Donald Trump’s executive order barring certain refugees from entering the United States.

Giuliani, who chairs Greenberg Traurig’s cybersecurity, privacy and crisis management practice and is a senior adviser to the firm’s executive chairman, said that Trump asked him to assemble a commission to show him how to legally enact a Muslim ban.

“When he first announced it, he said ‘Muslim ban,’” Giuliani told Fox News host Jeanine Pirro. “He called me up; he said, ‘Put a commission together. Tell me the right way to do it legally.’”

The executive order, which was signed on Jan. 27, bars Syrian refugees from entering the United States indefinitely, prohibits refugees from all countries from entering the country for 120 days and blocks any citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering for 90 days, The New York Times and other outlets have reported.

Greenberg Traurig executive chairman Richard Rosenbaum responded quickly to Giuliani’s comments, the legal blog Above the Law reported. On Sunday night, he sent a letter to the firm that made it clear that Greenberg Traurig was not retained to advise Trump on this executive order and that the firm values diversity and its immigrant roots.

“At our very core, from our first days as a law firm 50 years ago, we have stood for diversity and giving a chance to immigrants,” the letter, which was posted to Above the Law, said.

Rosenbaum noted that senior chairman Cesar Alvarez is a first-generation American and that his own mother escaped the country that was then Poland and is now Belarus and resettled in the United States. The letter went on to say that the firm will not take positions on controversial issues that might drive a wedge between itself and its clients.

“If Mayor Giuliani did so, it was without authority of our firm, not on behalf of our firm and in his personal capacity only,” the letter said.

Greenberg Traurig CEO Brian Duffy followed up with a note instructing firm lawyers and staff who to contact if they or their family members need legal assistance as a result of the executive order.

In a statement to Above the Law, Greenberg Traurig said that Giuliani “made recommendations to now President Trump on this topic” as a volunteer for his campaign. “He has advised that his involvement concluded at the end of the campaign,” the statement said.

While Giuliani’s firm biography page said he was on leave of absence during the campaign, according to the Wayback Machine, that disclaimer is no longer on the firm’s website. Giuliani did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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