Rudy Giuliani, who Atlanta prosecutors told was a target in their probe of former President Donald Trump’s 2020 election subversion plans in Georgia, is appearing behind closed doors for grand jury testimony as part of the investigation.
Giuliani declined to comment to CNN as he walked to Fulton County Superior Court just before 8:30 a.m. ET.
The indication that he is the target of investigation by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis marked an escalation in the investigation and raises questions about Trump’s criminal exposure in the investigation. Willis’ office has also informed 16 Trump-supporting operatives who were fraudulently introduced as presidential voters in 2020 that they are targets of its investigation, but the focus on Giuliani brings the investigation into Trump’s inner circle.
Bob Costello, an attorney for Giuliani, told CNN earlier this week that the former New York City mayor wouldn’t necessarily answer questions put to him.
“If they want to play hardball, we know how to play hardball,” Costello said.
Costello declined to say whether Giuliani would invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, but suggested Giuliani would not respond to questions about his communications with Trump.
“If you think he’s going to tell you about conversations he had with his client, you’re delusional,” Costello said. It all, he says, “depends on the questions they ask.”
Other witnesses who appeared before the grand jury were asked to testify about Giuliani’s participation in the 2020 hearings and meetings with Georgia lawmakers, where Giuliani pushed false allegations of electoral fraud.
Among the potential crimes Willis is investigating are misrepresentation to state and local government bodies, as well as solicitation of voter fraud and conspiracy.
Atlanta investigators interest hearings before Georgia lawmakers where Giuliani and other Trump allies promoted conspiracy theories about alleged rigging of the 2020 election. During a Georgia Senate subcommittee hearing on Dec. 3, 2020, Giuliani released a heavily edited video of Fulton County election workers, and he urged lawmakers to naming a list of pro-Trump voters in defiance of statewide results showing Joe Biden won. He also appeared virtually before a Georgia House committee to discuss alleged election irregularities on December 10, 2020.
Giuliani and other Trump allies appeared in another hearing before Georgia lawmakers on Dec. 30, 2020, where he reiterated false claims that the state’s election had been plagued by fraud.
His claims have been refuted by numerous state and federal officials. Among those pushing back are Trump-appointed officials, including former Atlanta U.S. Attorney Byung “Bjay” Pak, who confirmed to the U.S. House on Jan. 6, 2021, an investigation that the allegations of voter fraud alleged by Giuliani and others had been investigated by federal authorities and found to be false.
Democratic lawmakers who testified before the Fulton County grand jury have been asked to recount their experiences at those hearings, with investigators reporting a focus on the unusual way the hearings unfolded, lawmakers’ impressions of the information shared and the suggestion that lawmakers pursue an alternative list of voters.
Giuliani decried Willis’ investigation as “a political stunt” and a sign that “we are starting to live in a fascist state”.
“If I remember correctly, I appeared in Georgia as a lawyer for Donald J. Trump, so I’m going to be sued for what I did as a lawyer,” he said Monday. on his podcast.
For months, the public activity of the Fulton County inquiry has made it emerge as the most significant legal risk to Trump and his entourage for their attempts to undo his 2020 defeat. Only recently that it has become clear that the US Department of Justice is also investigating the conduct of Trump allies in connection with the 2020 election, but the targets of this investigation are not known.
Giuliani will appear before the Fulton County grand jury on Wednesday after being subpoenaed in July. Having failed to appear at a New York court hearing to challenge the subpoena, the New York judge ordered him to testify. Other attempts by Giuliani to push back the apparition – including claiming that a recent heart operation had prevented him from traveling – have failed.
Other lawyers who represented Trump in the 2020 election also sought to challenge the subpoenas to testify before the Fulton County grand jury.
This story and title have been updated with additional developments.