ATLANTA (AP) — Rudy Giuliani was questioned Wednesday in front of a special grand jury in Atlanta as the target of a investigation into attempts by former President Donald Trump and others to undo his 2020 election loss in Georgia.
The former New York City mayor and Trump lawyer remained inside the Fulton County Courthouse after several hours answering questions as part of a rapidly escalating investigation that took at traps several Trump allies.
Giuliani’s questioning was held behind closed doors, as grand jury proceedings are secret. Invaded by news cameras Wednesday morning as he stepped out of a limo on the steps of the courthouse, Giuliani said he had no plans to speak about his testimony.
“Grand juries, if I remember correctly, are secret,” said Giuliani, who came to court with his lawyer, Robert Costello. “They ask the questions and we’ll see.”
Although grand jury secrecy rules prohibit those present during grand jury testimony from discussing it, this prohibition does not apply to witnesses, including Giuliani. As a former federal prosecutor, he probably knows these rules.
It’s unclear how much the former New York mayor and attorney for Asset will be ready to say now that his lawyers have been informed he is the target of the investigation.
The investigation led by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has heightened scrutiny of desperate and ultimately failed efforts to undo Democrat Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory. It’s one of many investigations into Trump’s actions in office as he lays the groundwork for another race for the White House in 2024.
Willis opened his investigation after the disclosure of a remarkable January 2, 2021 phone call between Trump and Georgian Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. On the call, Trump suggested that Raffensperger could “figure out” the exact number of votes that would be needed to reverse Georgia’s election results.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing. He described the call as “perfect”.
Willis filed petitions last month to compel seven Trump associates and advisers to testify. She also said she plans to call Trump himself to testify, and the former president has hired a legal team in Atlanta that includes a prominent criminal defense attorney.
Searching for Giuliani’s testimony, Willis noted that he was both a personal attorney for Trump and a lead attorney for his 2020 campaign.
She reminded 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 workers producing “suitcases” of illegal ballots from from unknown sources, out of sight of election observers. The allegations of fraud were debunked by Georgian election officials within 24 hours. Still, Giuliani continued to make statements to the public and in subsequent legislative hearings, alleging widespread voter fraud using the debunked video, Willis noted in his filing.
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 the Dec. 3 legislative hearing in Georgia at which 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 wrote in the court filing that Giuliani’s appearance 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.”
Willis also wrote in a petition look for 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 Biden had won the state and a list of Democratic voters was certified.
Giuliani’s lawyers has tried to delay his appearance before the special grand jury, saying he was unable to fly due to heart stent surgery in early July.
But Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, who is overseeing the special grand jury, told a hearing last week that Giuliani had to be in Atlanta on Wednesday and could travel by bus, car or train. if necessary.
When asked how he made the trip, Giuliani told reporters, “I’ll give you an answer: I didn’t walk.”
Other Trump allies have also been dragged into the investigation. Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, received a subpoena ordering him to appear to testify on August 23. Graham challenged that subpoena, citing his protections as a congressman. A judge on Monday rejected that argument and said he had to testify. Graham said he would appeal.
Willis has indicated she is interested in calls between Graham and Raffensberger on the results in Georgia in the weeks following the elections.
Learn more about the investigations related to Donald Trump: https://apnews.com/hub/donald-trump.