Georgia grand jury subpoenas Trump allies including Giuliani and Graham

Seven advisers and allies of Donald J. Trump, including Rudolph W. Giuliani and Sen. Lindsey Graham, were subpoenaed Tuesday in Georgia’s ongoing criminal investigation into election interference by Mr. Trump and his associates. The move was the latest sign that the investigation has entangled a number of prominent members of Mr Trump’s orbit and could cloud the former president’s future.

The subpoenas underscore the scope of the investigation by Fani T. Willis, the Fulton County District Attorney, which encompasses most of Atlanta. She is weighing a range of charges, according to court documents, including racketeering and conspiracy, and her investigation has encompassed witnesses from beyond the state. The latest round of subpoenas was reported earlier by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The Fulton County investigation is one of many into efforts by Mr. Trump and his team to nullify the election, but it is the one that appears to put them in the most immediate legal danger. A House committee continues to investigate the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol. And there’s an escalating Justice Department investigation into a scheme to create fake presidential voter lists in 2020.

Amid extensive investigations, Mr Trump eyes early entry into 2024 presidential race; people close to him said he thought it would bolster his claims that the investigations were politically motivated.

A subpoena is not an indication that anyone is under investigation, although some of the latest recipients are considered to be at risk in the case – in particular Mr Giuliani, a personal lawyer for Mr Trump who has become a central figure in grand jury proceedings in the Georgia investigation. Mr. Giuliani spent several hours speaking before state legislative committees in December 2020, where he peddled false conspiracy theories about corrupt voting machines and a video he said showed secret suitcases of Democratic ballots. He told members of the State House at the time, “You can’t certify Georgia in good faith.”

Ms. Willis’ office, in its subpoena, said Mr. Giuliani “possesses unique knowledge regarding communications between himself, former President Trump, the Trump campaign, and other known and unknown individuals involved in the coordinated efforts of several states to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere.

Although the subpoenas were issued on Tuesday, not all of them had necessarily been received. Robert J. Costello, an attorney for Mr. Giuliani, said: “We have not received any subpoenas, so we have no comment at this time.”

Others have sent subpoenas, including Jenna Ellis, a lawyer who worked closely with Mr. Giuliani to overturn the 2020 election results; John Eastman, the legal architect of a plan to keep Mr. Trump in power using fake voters, and Mr. Graham, the South Carolina Republican who called on Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, another Republican, a few days after the election to learn about the rules for rejecting mail-in ballots.

On Wednesday, Mr Graham’s lawyers said they had been told he was ‘not a subject or target of the investigation, merely a witness’, and added they would fight the subpoena.

“As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Graham was well within his rights to discuss with state officials the processes and procedures related to the administration of elections,” Mr. Graham, Bart Daniel and Matt Austin, in a statement. “If upheld, the subpoena issued today would erode the constitutional checks and balances and the ability of a congressman to do his job.”

Another prominent lawyer who received a subpoena, Cleta Mitchell, was on Jan. 2, 2021, a call Mr. Trump made to Mr. Raffensperger where he asked him to find enough votes to overturn the results of the State. The subpoena issued to him read: ‘During the phone call, the witness and others made allegations of widespread voter fraud in Georgia’s November 2020 election and pressured Secretary Raffensperger to act in his official capacity to investigate unsubstantiated allegations of fraud.”

Two other Trump attorneys have also been subpoenaed: Jacki Pick Deason, who helped argue Team Trump’s case before the Georgia Legislature, and Kenneth Chesebro, whose role was highlighted during the hearings. the House on January 6 in Washington. In an email exchange with Mr. Eastman on the eve of the Jan. 6 attack, he wrote that the Supreme Court would be more likely to act on a legal challenge from Wisconsin “if the justices begin to fear that there have ‘savage’ mayhem on January 6th unless they rule by then, anyway.

Most of those subpoenaed could not immediately be reached for comment. A spokesperson for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, where Ms. Deason is a senior fellow, declined to comment.

The special grand jury was formed in early May and has up to a year to complete its work before issuing a report advising Ms Willis on whether to pursue criminal charges, although Ms Willis said she hoped to conclude a lot earlier. In official letters sent to potential witnesses, his office said it was looking into potential violations that include “solicitation of voter fraud, making false statements to state and local government bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violating of the oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the administration of the election.

The new subpoenas offered further clues to the subject of his investigation.

Mr. Eastman was a key witness at one of the December 2020 legislative hearings led by Mr. Giuliani. Ms. Willis’ office said in its subpoena to Mr. Eastman that during the hearing he “advised lawmakers that they had both the legal authority and the ‘duty’ to replace the list of Democratic Party presidential voters, who had been duly certified as Georgia state electors after the November 2020 election, due to unsubstantiated allegations of widespread voter fraud within the state.

They called the appearance a “coordinated, multi-state plan by the Trump campaign to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere.”

The subpoena also noted that Mr. Eastman “drafted at least two memoranda for the Trump campaign and others detailing a plan by which Vice President Mike Pence, as Senate Speaker, could decline to count some of the President Joe Biden’s electoral votes” on January 6 – a plan that was rejected by Mr. Pence.

Regarding Ms. Ellis, Ms. Willis’ office said that even after Mr. Raffensperger’s office debunked election worker fraud allegations in an Atlanta arena, Ms. Ellis persisted. “Despite this, the witness made additional statements alleging widespread voter fraud in Georgia during the November 2020 election,” the subpoena reads.

Sean Keenan and Luke Broadwater contributed report.