Giuliani and Graham testimony sought in 2020 election inquiry


ATLANTA (AP) — The Georgia prosecutor investigating the conduct of former President Donald Trump and his allies after the 2020 election is trying to compel U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and other members of Trump’s campaign legal team to testify before a special grand jury.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis on Tuesday filed petitions with the judge overseeing the special grand jury as part of her investigation into what she claims is “a coordinated multi-state plan by the Trump campaign to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere.

Willis also filed motions for five other potential witnesses: attorneys Kenneth Chesebro, Cleta Mitchell, Jenna Ellis, John Eastman and Jacki Pick Deason. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney approved the requests, which are similar to subpoenas, deeming them necessary for the investigation.

The special grand jury investigated whether Trump and others unlawfully tried to interfere in Georgia’s 2020 presidential election as he desperately tried to cling to power following Democrat Joe Biden’s victory. Trump continues to insist that the election was stolen, even as he considers another presidential race, despite numerous federal and local officials, a long list of courts, former staffers campaigners and even Trump’s own attorney general have all said there is no proof of the fraud he alleges.

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The investigation is separate from the congressional committee that examined the events surrounding the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 as well as the Justice Department’s own sprawling investigation.

The escalation comes as Trump plans to announce a third presidential election as soon as this summer as he seeks to distract from ongoing investigations and gain support before a long list of other potential candidates, such let Florida Governor Ron DeSantis make their own moves.

Willis, who took the unusual step of requesting a special grand jury earlier this year, confirmed that she and her team were reviewing a January 2021 phone call in which Trump pushed Georgian Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to ” find” the votes needed for him to win the state. She also said the team is considering a November 2020 phone call between Graham and Raffensperger, the U.S. attorney’s abrupt resignation in Atlanta on January 4, 2021, and comments made during the December 2020 Georgia legislative committee hearings on the election.

In the motion submitted to the judge, Willis wrote that Graham had in fact made at least two phone calls to Raffensperger and members of his team in the weeks following the November 2020 election. During those calls, Graham asked questions about re-examining some mail-in ballots “to explore the possibility of a more favorable outcome for former President Donald Trump,” she wrote.

A spokesperson for Graham did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In the petition for Giuliani’s testimony, Willis identifies him as both a personal attorney for Trump and “a lead attorney for the Trump campaign’s legal efforts seeking to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere.” .

As part of those efforts, she wrote, he and others appeared at a state Senate subcommittee hearing at the Georgia Capitol on Dec. 3, 2020, and “provided testimony , additional witnesses and documentary evidence purporting to demonstrate the existence of voter fraud in several Georgia counties” during the November 2020 election. None of this has been proven.

Among the “evidence” Giuliani presented was a video recording of election workers at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, which he said showed them producing “suitcases” of illegal ballots from unknown sources, out of sight of election observers, Willis wrote.

Within 24 hours of the hearing, Raffensperger’s office debunked the video and said it found no voter fraud took place in the arena, Willis wrote. Nonetheless, Giuliani continued to make statements to the public and in subsequent legislative hearings alleging widespread voter fraud using this debunked video, she wrote.

“There is evidence that (Giuliani’s) appearance and testimony at the hearing was part of a coordinated multi-state plan by the Trump campaign to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere,” the statement said. petition.

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Giuliani’s attorney, Bob Costello, said he had no comment and his client had not received a subpoena.

To compel the testimony of an out-of-state witness, a Georgia prosecutor must file a motion and then a judge must sign a certificate approving the motion, said Danny Porter, a former longtime Gwinnett County prosecutor in the suburb of Atlanta. .

The next step is to deliver the motion to a prosecutor, wherever the witness is, and serve it on the witness, who is entitled to a hearing. If the person objects to traveling to Georgia to testify, they must be able to show that their testimony is unnecessary or would be an undue hardship for them, Porter said.

Special grand juries are convened in Georgia to investigate complex cases with large numbers of witnesses and potential logistical issues. They can compel evidence and subpoena witnesses for questioning. Unlike regular grand juries, special grand juries can also subpoena the target of an investigation to appear before them.

When its investigation is complete, the special grand jury issues a final report and may recommend action. It is then up to the district attorney to decide whether to ask a regular grand jury for an indictment.

It’s unclear exactly what charges Willis might ultimately choose to pursue against Trump or anyone else. In a letter she sent to senior state officials last year, she said she was investigating “potential violations of Georgia law prohibiting solicitation of voter fraud, making false statements to state and local governments, conspiracy, racketeering, breach of oath and any involvement in violence or threats related to the administration of the election.”

Colvin reported from New York.


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