ATLANTA — Prosecutors in Fulton County, Georgia, have told Rudy Giuliani’s lawyers that he is a target of their ongoing criminal probe of efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, a Giuliani lawyer said Monday.
Attorney Robert Costello said that lawyers for the former New York mayor were told by the office of Fulton County’s district attorney, Democrat Fani Willis, on Monday that Giuliani is a target of the ongoing probe. Giuliani has served as a lawyer for Donald Trump. The New York Times first reported the story.
Costello said he and Giuliani “plan to be in Atlanta on Wednesday” to testify as scheduled before the special grand jury that has been hearing evidence in the case. Giuliani had sought to delay or avoid travel to Atlanta to testify, citing recent surgery to have a heart stent implanted. “We are not going to deal with this postponement issue anymore,” Costello said.
Although he will appear at the Fulton County courthouse this week, Costello said that Giuliani plans to cite attorney-client privilege if asked about his interactions with the former president regarding the 2020 election.
Willis’s office has been consistently pressing high-profile witnesses to testify and won a federal court victory Monday in a related matter.
In that case, a federal judge denied a request by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., to toss his subpoena in Georgia prosecutors’ investigation, signaling that he must testify in the probe. Graham plans to appeal the decision, his office said in a statement released after the verdict.
Graham had argued that he should be exempt from testifying because of speech or debate clause protections, sovereign immunity and his position as a high-ranking government official. U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May rejected all three arguments.
“The Court finds that the District Attorney has shown extraordinary circumstances and a special need for Senator Graham’s testimony on issues relating to alleged attempts to influence or disrupt the lawful administration of Georgia’s 2022 elections,” the judge wrote.
Democrat Joe Biden won Georgia by nearly 12,000 votes, flipping the state after a long string of Republican victories in presidential elections.
Willis requested a special grand jury this year. It began meeting in June and has identified more than 100 people of interest. The panel has heard testimony from Georgia’s secretary of state, Republican Brad Raffensperger, and his staff; Georgia’s attorney general, Republican Christopher Carr; state legislators; and local election workers.
Graham is of interest to the committee for phone calls he made to Raffensperger about Georgia’s election system. Willis claims Graham made multiple phone calls to Raffensperger and his staff after the election requesting that they reexamine certain absentee ballots “to explore the possibility of a more favorable outcome for former president Donald Trump.”
In a statement released Monday, Graham’s office again cited the Constitution’s speech or debate clause to argue that it “prevents a local official from questioning a Senator about how that Senator did his job” and said he would appeal the judge’s ruling to the circuit court.
“Here, Senator Graham was doing his due diligence before the Electoral Count Act certification vote - where he voted to certify the election,” the statement said. “Although the district court acknowledged that Speech or Debate may protect some of Senator Graham’s activities, she nevertheless ignored the constitutional text and binding Supreme Court precedent.”
Graham’s lawyers previously said that their client’s calls about reexamining specific absentee ballots after Trump’s loss wasn’t an effort to interfere in the 2020 presidential election. The conversations were about Georgia procedures, his lawyers wrote in court papers filed in South Carolina in July.
Graham’s legal team is led by former Trump White House counsel Donald McGahn.
Willis named Graham, who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, in her investigation of various Trump-allied individuals and what she deemed “a multistate, coordinated plan by the Trump Campaign to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere.”
Willis launched the probe in the weeks after the Trump campaign and its allies placed calls to Georgia officials seeking to overturn the election results. The case covers some of the matters reviewed by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection and by the Justice Department inquiry examining efforts to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power. But Willis, 50, has been at the forefront in publicly pursuing a criminal case, in part because she is able to take advantage of state statutes that legal experts say could make a criminal prosecution faster and less cumbersome than a federal case.
She has subpoenaed more than three dozen individuals - including a group of Georgia Republicans she has identified as targets of the criminal probe for their role as purported Trump electors.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox
Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.