Giuliani Is a Target in Georgia’s Trump Election Inquiry, Lawyer Says

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ATLANTA — Legal pressure on Donald J. Trump and his closest allies increased Monday, when prosecutors informed his former personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, that Mr. Giuliani was a target in a wide-ranging criminal investigation into election meddling in the United States. Georgia.

The notice came the same day a federal judge dismissed attempts by another key Trump ally, Senator Lindsey Graham, to avoid giving testimony before the special grand jury hearing evidence in the Atlanta case.

One of Mr Giuliani’s lawyers, Robert Costello, said in an interview that he had been informed on Monday that his client was a target. Being so identified is not a guarantee that a person will be charged; it usually means prosecutors believe an indictment is possible, based on evidence they’ve seen so far.

Mr. Giuliani, who as Mr. Trump’s personal attorney spearheaded efforts to keep Mr. Trump in power, has emerged in recent weeks as a central figure in the investigation conducted by Fani T. Willis. , the district attorney of Fulton County, Georgia, which includes most of Atlanta.

Earlier this summer, prosecutors questioned witnesses before the special grand jury about Mr Giuliani’s appearances before state legislative panels in December 2020, when he spent hours peddling false conspiracy theories about secret briefcases containing Democratic ballots and corrupt voting machines.

For Mr Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, the developments are the latest in a growing series of problems, although he recently received some good news when it emerged that he was unlikely to face a federal criminal investigation into his ties to Ukraine during the 2020 presidential campaign.

Mr. Giuliani will appear before the special grand jury on Wednesday at a courthouse in downtown Atlanta. His attorney, Mr. Costello, said in the interview that Mr. Giuliani would likely invoke attorney-client privilege if asked questions about his dealings with Mr. Trump. “If these people think he’s going to talk about conversations between him and President Trump, they’re delusional,” Costello said.

The rejection of Senator Graham’s attempt to avoid testifying came in a written order from Atlanta federal court judge Leigh Martin May. Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, will now testify on August 23.

The judge ruled that prosecutors had demonstrated “a special need for Mr. Graham’s testimony on issues related to alleged attempts to influence or disrupt the legal administration of Georgia’s 2022 election.”

Graham’s lawyers have said he was informed by prosecutors that he was a witness, not a target.

Prosecutors want his testimony for a number of reasons. Among them are two phone calls Mr. Graham made just after the 2020 election to Brad Raffensperger, the Secretary of State for Georgia, in which Mr. Graham inquired about ways to help Mr. Trump by invalidating certain incoming votes.

In another development on Monday, newly released court files provided new details about the effort Mr Trump’s allies made as they tried to reverse the results in Georgia and other states. A series of documents revealed that a forensics team working with attorneys working with Mr. Trump successfully accessed critical election infrastructure in Coffee County, Georgia, and obtained information about voting machines and software.

The disclosure, detailed via emails and texts obtained by The New York Times, is the first confirmation that the rural county’s electoral system had been violated by an unauthorized outside group. News of the breach was previously reported by The Washington Post.

The infiltration of Coffee County’s electoral system is one of many examples in states across the country, including Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, and Colorado, where a loosely-connected network of tech experts and attorneys tried to probe sensitive information about voting equipment in a sprawling effort. to obtain. to show that the 2020 elections were corrupted by fraud.

Mr. Giuliani’s post-election activities on behalf of Mr. Trump have left him in trouble on a number of fronts. The Washington House Committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack has uncovered video footage of Mr. Giuliani’s activities in Georgia, and the plan to create rival presidential election slates is also the subject of a debate. intensification of the investigation by the Ministry of Justice. Mr. Giuliani is one of the subjects of civil lawsuits by two makers of voting machines, Dominion and Smartmatic, seeking billions of dollars in damages.

Much of Mr. Giuliani’s conduct in Georgia was laid out last year by the New York State Court of Appeals, which suspended his law license. The court released a 33-page report mentioning Georgia 35 times and describing “numerous false and misleading statements regarding the results of the presidential election in Georgia” by Mr. Giuliani. For example, the court noted that Mr Giuliani had falsely claimed that tens of thousands of underage teens had voted illegally in Georgia, even though a check by Georgia’s Secretary of State found that no one under the age of 18 had voted in the 2020 election.

Giuliani was also a central figure in the Trump campaign’s plan to urge lawmakers in swing states to nominate voter lists other than those elected by voters, which is part of the Georgia investigation and the Department of State’s investigation. Justice.

A spokesman for the Fulton County District Attorney’s office declined to comment Monday. It is unclear what charges Giuliani could face if indicted. But in the past, Ms. Willis has said her investigation could lead to extortion or conspiracy involving multiple suspects.

Norman Eisen, a lawyer who served as special counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during the initial impeachment and trial of Mr. Trump, said he believed identifying Mr. Giuliani as a target could mean that Mr. Trump eventually too. will be a target.

“It is out of the question that Giuliani is a target of the DA’s investigation and that Trump will not be,” Mr Eisen said in an interview on Monday. “They are simply too factually and legally entangled in the attempt to use false voters and other means to destroy the election results in Georgia.”

Attorneys for Mr Giuliani have said he has not done anything improper in Georgia and is willing to cooperate. But they’ve talked to Mrs. Willis’s office about her efforts to get him to testify before the grand jury. Mr Giuliani’s lawyers have said that a doctor advised Mr Giuliani not to travel by plane because of a procedure he underwent in early July to insert cardiac stents, and they have tried to postpone his testimony or to videoconference him. let it wane, an idea that the The Public Prosecutor’s Office has resisted.

Fulton County Superior Court judge Robert C.I. McBurney said last week that Mr. Giuliani could travel to Atlanta “on a train, a bus or Uber,” and set a date for Wednesday after agreeing to delay his appearance for more than a week. set . Mr. Giuliani’s lawyers indicated that their client would in any case have little to say if he were identified as a target of the investigation.

“I think it would be mean to have him travel here as a target, especially with these alternative means, when there probably wouldn’t be a lot of grand jury testimony,” another Giuliani attorney, William H. Thomas Jr., said in a statement. said after a court hearing.

At least 17 other people have already been identified as targets for indictment in the investigation, including two state senators and the head of the Republican state party.

Graham’s lawyers based their argument that he should not be forced to testify on the Constitution’s speech and debate clause, which prevents lawmakers from being questioned about things they say related to their official duties. The lawyers argued, among other things, that Mr Graham, as a high-ranking official, could only be summoned under “extraordinary circumstances”.

Judge May ruled that prosecutors had demonstrated the existence of such extraordinary circumstances.

Mr Graham has argued that his calls to Mr Raffensperger were protected under the Speech and Debate Clause as they were an investigation in nature and related to his then position as Chair of the Judiciary Committee. But the judge noted in her injunction that “individuals at the talks have publicly suggested that Senator Graham was not just investigating legislative facts,” and “tried to influence Secretary Raffensperger’s actions” to benefit Mr. Trump. come. (Mr Raffensperger has said that Mr Graham seemed to be suggesting him find a way to dispose of legally cast ballots.)

Judge May’s ruling essentially left it up to the state court to determine which elements of Mr Graham’s talks should be shielded in accordance with the speech and debate clause.

But she also noted that, aside from the phone calls, there were plenty of other topics the special grand jury undoubtedly found interesting, including Mr. Graham’s “potential communication and coordination with the Trump campaign and the post-election efforts in the United States.” Georgia.”

Prosecutors are demanding that two other lawyers from the Trump team, Jenna Ellis and John Eastman, also appear before the special grand jury. The participation of Colorado resident Ms. Ellis will be discussed at a court hearing scheduled for Tuesday in Fort Collins, Colorado. A similar hearing will be held for Mr. Eastman, a New Mexico resident, at a courthouse in Santa Fe, NL on Wednesday.

Mr. Costello, Mr. Giuliani’s attorney, was asked Monday by a reporter what mode of transportation his client would use if he was going to Atlanta from New York.

“No comment,” Mr. Costello said.

Alexandra Berzon and Nick Corasanitic reporting contributed.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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