Prosecutors in Fulton County, Ga., have told Rudy Giuliani’s lawyers that he is a target of their ongoing criminal probe into efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, a Giuliani lawyer said Monday.
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 the case. Giuliani is considered a key witness in the sprawling inquiry.
The targeting of Giuliani is just the latest example of Willis moving aggressively with her probe. Willis also won a federal court victory Monday in a related matter involving Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who a judge ruled must testify in the case.
In recent weeks and months, Willis has pushed to get high-profile witnesses to appear under oath in an inquiry that may represent the most immediate legal threat to Trump among a thicket of interconnected federal, state, local and congressional probes.
Giuliani had sought to delay or avoid travel to Atlanta to testify, citing recent surgery to have heart stents implanted. Last week, he provided the court with details from his personal physician explaining why the former New York mayor was at risk to travel by air. For whatever reason, Giuliani’s team Monday abandoned efforts to reschedule his testimony. “We are not going to deal with this postponement issue anymore,” Costello said.
Although he will appear at the Fulton County courthouse this week, it’s not clear if Giuliani will have much to say. Costello said Giuliani plans to cite attorney-client privilege if asked about his interactions with the former president regarding the 2020 election. He could follow the example of other targets in this case and decline to answer questions based on the constitutional protection against self-incrimination.
Willis’s office did not respond to a request for comment. The New York Times first reported that Giuliani is a target.
In the Graham case, a federal judge denied the senator’s request to toss out his subpoena from the Georgia prosecutor, signaling that he must testify in the probe. The original subpoena to Graham called for him to testify Aug. 23, though that date may be pushed back as Graham’s office announced plans to appeal the decision.
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’s probe began after reports that Trump and his allies had placed calls to Georgia officials seeking to overturn state election results. It expanded to include efforts, of which Giuliani was a part, to send the names of Trump electors in multiple states to Washington in hopes of delaying or halting the certification of a Biden electoral victory.
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 Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) and his staff, Georgia Attorney General Christopher M. Carr (R), state lawmakers 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.” Graham’s legal team has denied any wrongdoing and said his testimony was sought as a witness.
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 their client’s calls about reexamining specific absentee ballots after Trump’s loss weren’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 has been led by former Trump White House counsel Donald McGahn.
Willis named Graham, who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, as part of her inquiry into what she has deemed “a multistate, coordinated plan by the Trump Campaign to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere.”
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.
Willis has not ruled out calling Trump as a witness, telling an Atlanta television station recently that “we are at least 60 days away before I even have to make that kind of decision.”
Matthew Brown contributed to this report.
The Jan. 6 insurrection
Congressional hearings: The House committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol held a series of high-profile hearings to share its findings with the U.S. public. What was likely to be the panel’s final public hearing has been postponed because of Hurricane Ian. Here’s a guide to the biggest hearing moments so far.
Will there be charges? The committee could make criminal referrals of former president Donald Trump over his role in the attack, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said in an interview.
The riot: On Jan. 6, 2021, a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of the 2020 election results. Five people died on that day or in the immediate aftermath, and 140 police officers were assaulted.
Inside the siege: During the rampage, rioters came perilously close to penetrating the inner sanctums of the building while lawmakers were still there, including former vice president Mike Pence. The Washington Post examined text messages, photos and videos to create a video timeline of what happened on Jan. 6.