Skip to content
Giuliani sued for unpaid legal fees by lawyer who led his defense


Rudolph W. Giuliani, already indicted and facing loss of his law license for his efforts to keep Donald J. Trump in power after the 2020 election, is now being sued by his own lawyer.

The lawyer, Robert J. Costello, who had led Mr. Giuliani’s defense against a wave of legal problems, signed his firm’s lawsuit on Monday to recover more than $1.3 million in unpaid legal fees. The development is a blow to Mr. Giuliani as he nears a financial breaking point.

Mr. Giuliani, a former New York mayor, former U.S. attorney and former high-flying trial lawyer, owes nearly $3 million to various law firms, including the one where Mr. Costello is a partner, people with knowledge of the folder. . Mr. Giuliani had repeatedly sought a financial lifeline from his client, Mr. Trump, who had offered vague promises of payment but largely refused to do so.

Much of what Mr. Giuliani owes stems from his work for Mr. Trump in the aftermath of the 2020 election. Mr. Giuliani racked up legal bills while battling a series of criminal and congressional investigations, private lawsuits and disciplinary proceedings that cast a harsh light on his attempt to keep Mr. Trump in power despite his electoral defeat.

The lawsuit filed by Mr. Costello and his firm, Davidoff Hutcher & Citron LLP, represents a new low for Mr. Giuliani and, in his eyes, a personal betrayal of sorts.

The two men have known each other for half a century; Mr. Costello trained as a law student under Mr. Giuliani, who was at the time a federal prosecutor in Manhattan. They became friends, and for the past four years Mr. Costello has been Mr. Giuliani’s loyal and pugilistic defender against legal scrutiny.

In a statement provided by a spokesman, Mr. Giuliani attacked Mr. Costello and the lawsuit, describing it as an overly aggressive collection attempt.

“I cannot express how personally hurt I am by what Bob Costello did,” Mr. Giuliani said. “It’s a shame when lawyers do things like that, and all I’ll say is that their bill far exceeds anything approaching a legitimate fee.”

Reached by telephone, Mr. Costello initially declined to comment, but fired back after hearing Mr. Giuliani’s statement, asking: “How can he accept a personal affront when he owes almost 1.4 million dollars to my business?

Mr Costello also disputed the claim that the bills were excessive, saying he charged his usual hourly rate and that Mr Giuliani never complained about the cost until Davidoff Hutcher & Citron warned that he planned to continue.

“He’s a little late to this party,” Mr Costello said, adding: “It’s too late for this frivolous claim, as he will find out in court.”

Mr. Giuliani, he said, “has taken the low road here because he feels desperate.”

In total, Mr. Costello’s firm billed Mr. Giuliani $1,574,196, according to the lawsuit. Of that amount, Mr. Giuliani paid only $214,000, according to the lawsuit, last handing over $10,000 last week.

The bills reflect a broad range of work, begun in 2019, when Mr. Giuliani was under investigation by federal prosecutors in Manhattan, examining his ties to Ukraine. As Mr. Giuliani’s legal troubles grew, Mr. Costello oversaw the various litigation tentacles arising from the 2020 election fight.

Mr. Giuliani’s efforts on behalf of Mr. Trump led to the suspension of his New York law license. This summer, a legal ethics committee in Washington recommended that Mr. Giuliani be disbarred for his “unprecedented” attempts to overturn the election.

Two Georgia election officials also filed a defamation suit against him because he falsely accused them of stealing ballots; a trial should be scheduled soon to award damages.

And in August, Mr. Giuliani was indicted alongside Mr. Trump in a sweeping racketeering case brought by a Georgia prosecutor.

Mr. Costello, who did not work pro bono, led efforts to recover money from Mr. Trump for more than two years. Mr. Costello contacted at least six lawyers close to Mr. Trump, arguing that the former president should pay legal fees incurred by Mr. Giuliani because of his work on the election.

In April, Mr. Costello and Mr. Giuliani traveled to Florida to make a direct appeal to Mr. Trump, meeting with him at his West Palm Beach golf club and again at his Mar-a-Lago estate two days later. later.

At Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump assured Mr. Giuliani’s bills would be paid, a person with knowledge of the matter said, but since then the former president has yet to pay. His political action committee, which handled the legal bills of others around him, paid just $340,000 on Mr. Giuliani’s behalf.

A fundraiser for Mr. Giuliani was held recently at Mr. Trump’s golf club in New Jersey, and some of the former president’s aides were told it raised $1 million.

Mr. Giuliani, whose response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks earned him the nickname “America’s Mayor,” was once worth tens of millions of dollars.

He has seen a remarkable reversal of fortune since working for Mr. Trump. He also lost much of his wealth in a divorce from his third wife, Judith Nathan, and is currently unable to work as a lawyer due to disciplinary action taken against him.

Mr. Giuliani, whose apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side was raided by federal authorities in 2021 as part of the investigation into his dealings with Ukraine, recently put it up for sale for 6, 5 million dollars.

Maggie Haberman reports contributed.