Giuliani targeted in criminal probe into 2020 election

ATLANTA (AP) — Rudy Giuliani is the target of the criminal investigation into possible illegal attempts by then-President Donald Trump and others to interfere in Georgia’s 2020 general election, prosecutors for the former New York mayor’s attorneys advised Monday.

Revelation that Giuliani, an outspoken Trump defender, could face criminal charges as part of the probe led by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis edges the probe closer to former president. Willis said she was considering calling Trump himself to testify before the special grand jury, and the former president has hired a criminal defense attorney in Atlanta.

Law enforcement’s scrutiny of Trump has escalated dramatically. Last week, the FBI raided his Florida home as part of their investigation into whether he had taken classified White House files to Mar-a-Lago. He is also facing a civil investigation in New York over allegations that his company, the Trump Organization, misled banks and tax authorities about the value of his assets. And the Justice Department is investigating the Jan. 6 uprising on the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters as well as efforts by him and his allies to nullify the election he falsely claimed was stolen.

Giuliani, who spread false claims of voter fraud in Atlanta’s Fulton County while leading efforts to contest Georgia’s election, is scheduled to testify before a court on Wednesday. special grand jury which was jibed at Willis’ request. Giuliani’s attorney declined to say whether he would answer questions or refuse.

Special Prosecutor Nathan Wade alerted Giuliani’s team in Atlanta that he was a target of investigation, Giuliani’s attorney Robert Costello said Monday. News of the disclosure was first reported by The New York Times.

Speaking on a radio show in New York on Monday, Giuliani said he had been Trump’s lawyer in Georgia.

“You do this to a lawyer, we don’t have America anymore,” he said.

Earlier Monday, a federal judge ruled that US Senator Lindsey Graham must testify before the special grand jury. Prosecutors said they want to question Graham about phone calls he allegedly made to Georgian Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff in the weeks after the election.

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Willis’s investigation was spurred by a phone call between Trump and Raffensperger. During this January 2021 conversationTrump suggested that Raffensperger “find” the votes needed to reverse his narrow loss in the state.

Willis filed petitions last month seeking to compel seven Trump associates and advisers to testify.

In look for Giuliani’s testimony, Willis identified him as both Trump’s personal attorney and his campaign’s lead attorney. She wrote that he and others appeared at a state Senate committee meeting and presented a video that Giuliani said showed election officials producing “suitcases” of illegal ballots from sources. unknown, out of sight of election observers.

Within 24 hours of that December 3, 2020 hearing, Raffensperger’s office had debunked the video. But Giuliani continued to make statements to the public and in subsequent legislative hearings alleging widespread voter fraud using the debunked video, Willis wrote.

Evidence shows that Giuliani’s hearing and testimony 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,” his petition states.

Two of the election workers seen in the video, Ruby Freeman and Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, said they faces relentless harassment online and in person after being shown at a December 3 legislative hearing in Georgia where Giuliani appeared. At another hearing a week later, Giuliani said the footage showed the women “surreptitiously going around the USB ports as if they were heroin or cocaine vials.” In fact, they were passing a candy.

Willis also wrote in a petition seek testimony from attorney Kenneth Chesebro that he worked with Giuliani to coordinate and implement a plan to have Georgia Republicans serve as fake voters. These 16 people signed a certificate falsely stating that Trump had won the 2020 presidential election and declaring themselves the state’s “duly elected and qualified” voters, even though Joe Biden had won the state and a slate of Democratic voters had been certified.

All 16 of those bogus voters received letters saying they are the target of the investigation, Willis said in a court filing last month.

As for Graham, the South Carolina Republican lawyers argued that his position as an American senator guarantees him immunity from having to appear before the committee of inquiry. But U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May written in order Monday that the immunities linked to his role as a senator do not protect him from having to testify. Graham’s subpoena orders him to appear before the special grand jury on August 23, but his office announced on Monday that it plans to appeal.

May last month rejected a similar attempt by U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., to avoid testifying before the special grand jury.

Graham’s office said in a statement on Monday that the senator disagreed with the judge’s interpretation of the Constitution provision that he said protects him from questioning by a government official. State. His lawyers said he was conducting investigations that were part of his legislative duties, related to vote certification and proposed election legislation.

But the judge wrote that this ignores “the fact that interviewees publicly suggested that Senator Graham was not merely engaged in a legislative inquiry, but rather was suggesting or implying that Georgia election officials change their processes or potentially change state results.

In calls made shortly after the 2020 general election, Graham “asked Raffensperger and his team about re-examining certain absentee ballots cast in Georgia to explore the possibility of a more favorable outcome for the ‘former President Donald Trump,’ Willis wrote in a petition.

Graham also “referenced allegations of widespread voter fraud in Georgia’s November 2020 election consistent with public statements made by known Trump campaign affiliates,” she wrote.

Republican and Democratic state election officials across the country, the courts, and even trump attorney general found there was no evidence of voter fraud sufficient to affect the outcome of his defeat in the 2020 presidential election.

Lawmakers allied with Trump planned to challenge counts from several battleground states when Congress convened on Jan. 6, 2021, to certify the results under the Voter Count Act, but after the capitol attack that day, Georgia’s tally was never disputed.

Trump denied any wrongdoing and called his appeal to Raffensperger “perfect”.


Colvin reported from New York. Associated Press writers Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina, and Lisa Mascaro in Washington contributed to this report.

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