ATLANTA (AP) — Rudy Giuliani arrived at an Atlanta courthouse Wednesday under a judge’s order to seem before a special grand jury that’s investigating attempts by former President Donald Trump and others to overturn his 2020 election defeat in Georgia.
News cameras swarmed Giuliani as he stepped out of a limousine Wednesday morning together with his attorney, Bob Costello, and walked up the steps into the Fulton County courthouse. Giuliani told reporters that he wouldn’t speak about his testimony.
“Grand juries, as I recall, are secret,” he said on CNN. “They ask the questions and we’ll see.”
It’s unclear how much the previous Latest York mayor and attorney for Trump shall be willing to say now that his lawyers have been informed he’s a goal of the investigation. Questioning will happen behind closed doors since the special grand jury proceedings are secret.
Yet Giuliani’s appearance is one other high-profile step in a rapidly escalating investigation that has ensnared several Trump allies and brought heightened scrutiny to the desperate and ultimately failed efforts to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s 2020 election win. It’s one among several investigations into Trump’s actions in office as he lays the groundwork for one more run on the White House in 2024.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis opened her investigation after the disclosure of a remarkable Jan. 2, 2021, phone call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. On the decision, Trump suggested that Raffensperger could “find” the precise variety of votes that will be needed to flip the election ends in Georgia.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing. He has described the decision as “perfect.”
Willis last month filed petitions to compel testimony from seven Trump associates and advisers. She has also said she’s considering calling Trump himself to testify, and the previous president has hired a legal team in Atlanta that features a distinguished criminal defense attorney.
In in search of Giuliani’s testimony, Willis noted that he was each a private attorney for Trump and a lead attorney for his 2020 campaign.
She recalled in a petition how Giuliani and others appeared at a state Senate committee meeting in late 2020 and presented a video that Giuliani said showed election employees producing “suitcases” of illegal ballots from unknown sources, outside the view of election poll watchers. The claims of fraud were debunked by Georgia election officials inside 24 hours. Yet Giuliani continued to make statements to the general public and in subsequent legislative hearings claiming widespread election fraud using the debunked video, Willis noted in her filing.
Two of the election employees seen within the video, Ruby Freeman and Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, said they faced relentless harassment online and in person after it was shown on the Dec. 3 Georgia legislative hearing through which Giuliani appeared. At one other hearing every week later, Giuliani said the footage showed the ladies “surreptitiously passing around USB ports as in the event that they are vials of heroin or cocaine.” They really were passing a bit of candy.
Willis wrote within the court filing that Giuliani’s hearing appearance and testimony were “a part of a multi-state, coordinated plan by the Trump Campaign to influence the outcomes of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere.”
Willis also wrote in a petition in search of the testimony of attorney Kenneth Chesebro that he worked with Giuliani to coordinate and perform a plan to have Georgia Republicans function fake electors. Those 16 people signed a certificate declaring falsely that Trump had won the 2020 presidential election and declaring themselves the state’s “duly elected and qualified” electors regardless that Biden had won the state and a slate of Democratic electors was certified.
Giuliani’s attorneys tried to delay his appearance before the special grand jury, saying he was unable to fly as a consequence of heart stent surgery in early July.
But Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, who’s overseeing the special grand jury, said during a hearing last week that Giuliani needed to be in Atlanta on Wednesday and will travel by bus, automobile or train if vital.
Other Trump allies have also been swept up within the probe. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, received a subpoena ordering him to seem for testimony on Aug. 23. Graham has challenged that subpoena, citing his protections as a member of Congress. A judge on Monday rejected that argument and said he must testify. Graham has said he’ll appeal.
Willis has indicated she is serious about calls between Graham and Raffensberger in regards to the results in Georgia within the weeks after the election.
More on Donald Trump-related investigations: https://apnews.com/hub/donald-trump.