For The Record

Giuliani, Graham striking out in bids to avoid date with Fulton grand jury

By: - August 15, 2022 7:02 pm

A Fulton County investigation into whether President Donald Trump or associates broke the law by trying to overturn the 2020 election results was initiated by District Attorney Fani Willis after the public release of a recorded January 2021 phone call in which Trump pressed Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to find enough ballots to overcome Joe Biden’s 12,000 vote victory. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who is now the target of a criminal investigation into the crusade to overturn the 2020 election to keep Trump in power, has been ordered to testify before a Fulton County special grand jury on Wednesday. 

A lawyer for Giuliani confirmed on Monday that a prosecutor from the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office said Giuliani is indeed a target of the extensive investigation into election interference, two days before prosecutors are expected to grill him about his possible involvement in spreading unfounded theories about fraudulent absentee ballots, setting up fake electors and for other information regarding the effort to prevent Georgia’s 2020 presidential election winner Joe Biden from succeeding the Republican president.

The former New York City mayor will become the most prominent Trump ally to testify before the special grand jury that’s so far heard from dozens of witnesses. The panel will recommend whether Fulton District Attorney Fani Willis should pursue criminal charges against Giuliani or other players who tried to overturn the 2020 presidential election. She has said that it appears the Trump campaign coordinated an attempt to disrupt the post-election process in battleground states, which culminated in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

Also on Monday, another high-profile witness, Republican South Carolina U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, was ordered to appear before the Fulton grand jury on Aug. 23 after a federal judge rejected the senator’s arguments that he was legally protected because he was acting within his legislative authority when he called Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger about recalculating absentee votes to help Trump claim victory.

In an emergency motion last week, Giuliani claimed he was unable to fly to Atlanta because of a medical condition, but a judge ordered him to comply.

According to Anthony Michael Kreis, a constitutional law professor at Georgia State University, Monday’s development isn’t a surprise as signs are pointing to Trump’s former personal and campaign lawyer being included in a broader conspiracy case.

Giuliani is likely to plead Fifth Amendment protections to avoid self-incrimination on Wednesday, Kreis added.

Following the 2020 election, Giuliani fervently promoted allegations of widespread voter fraud in Georgia, including at a state Senate hearing where he claimed that a video showed Fulton election workers handling fake absentee ballots. He encouraged Republican lawmakers to appoint illegitimate electors to cast votes for Trump.  

“In one sense you wouldn’t expect (Willis) to treat Giuliani differently than the fake electors, but on the other hand there isn’t one overtly criminal act he committed,” Kreis said. “It’s not like he signed an official document, there’s not a recording like Trump making the request before the secretary of state, and Giuliani wasn’t under oath when he appeared before the General Assembly legislative committee.”

On Monday, a federal judge ruled Graham must comply since he will answer questions not covered by the law protecting legislators while performing their regular duties. 

Graham is expected to make a final appeal in federal court.

“You wouldn’t want to have an investigation inquiring into a legislator’s vote or what they were thinking in a legislative proceeding,” Kreis said.

Among those who have testified in the grand jury probe into interference after Georgia’s 2020 presidential election are Republicans Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, who drew Trump’s ire for not preventing the state from certifying Biden’s win.  

Meanwhile, the majority of the 16 people who submitted false elector documents and Georgia GOP Congressman Jody Hice are among those still fighting Fulton subpoenas.

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Stanley Dunlap
Stanley Dunlap

Stanley Dunlap has covered government and politics for news outlets in Georgia and Tennessee for the past decade. The Georgia Associated Press Managing Editors named Stanley a finalist for best deadline reporting. The Tennessee Press Association honored him for his reporting on the disappearance of Holly Bobo.