One day after Rudy Giuliani announced he was leaving his law firm to offer his “sole concentration” to President Donald Trump, Giuliani appeared in a Broward County, Florida, courtroom Friday to represent a woman accused in an insurance fraud case.
The former New York City mayor, who recently joined Trump’s legal team, appeared for a morning hearing for a criminal defendant. According to court documents, the defendant was in a car crash on May 18, 2016, in Broward County. She is accused of fraudulently purchasing auto insurance online just 10 minutes after the crash and providing false and misleading information to the insurance company.
Two people confirmed Giuliani appeared in court, including Constance Simmons, the public information officer for the state’s 17th Judicial Circuit.
Steve Rossi, the lead Florida attorney representing the defendant, told CNN over the phone Friday that he had never worked with Giuliani before. Asked why the President’s attorney is getting involved in an insurance fraud case in Florida, Rossi said Giuliani knows the woman and her family.
“I consider it an honor to have a historical and political icon assisting me on this case,” Rossi said. “He is here to help me out and offer his assistance and I more than graciously accepted it.”
Rossi added that Giuliani did not mention anything about the President or the fact that he is Trump’s lawyer in court. Giuliani was “his usual cordial self,” Rossi said.
Giuliani is licensed to practice law in New York but not in Florida, according to court documents. The former New York City mayor requested to work on this case about two weeks after it was announced that he would be joining Trump’s legal team, court documents show. He was granted that request May 8.
Reached Friday afternoon, Giuliani said the case was not related to his work for the President. “This is a private client,” he told CNN. “I did it as a favor.”
He described it as a “minor case” that only took up a half hour in court Friday morning. “I’m cleaning up my law business so I can focus on the President,” Giuliani said.
Politico Playbook reported earlier Friday that Giuliani had been spotted at the Broward County courthouse. Giuliani told Playbook that his business there “had nothing to do with the President.”
Trump’s legal team didn’t comment for this story.
The defendant, Vanessa Ryan, could not be reached for comment. She has pleaded not guilty to the charges. The affidavit states that after Ryan bought her insurance based on false information, she then filed a fraudulent insurance claim the next day.
In requesting permission to work on the case, Giuliani listed the Manhattan address of his law firm, Greenberg Traurig, as the location of his office.
Giuliani announced Thursday that he had offered a “permanent resignation” from Greenberg Traurig, following what was initially a temporary leave of absence from the firm.
“In light of the pressing demands of the Mueller investigation, I believe it is in everyone’s best interest that I make it a permanent resignation,” Giuliani said in a statement, referring to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible Russian collusion in the 2016 election. “This way, my sole concentration can be on this critically important matter for our country.”
Richard Rosenbaum, the executive chairman of Greenberg Traurig, said in a statement that there was a recognition that Giuliani’s work for Trump was “all consuming and is lasting longer than previously anticipated.”
A spokesperson for Greenberg Traurig responded, “This is not a firm matter,” when CNN asked about the law firm’s role – if any – in the case.
Attorney Mike Gottlieb was in the courtroom for a separate case and heard the judge call for Rossi, who was not in the room at the time.
“All of the sudden, in walks this elder statesmen type guy surrounded by about 10 armed guards,” Gottlieb said. “That’s when I knew something was afoot.”
CNN’s Kevin Conlon contributed to this report.