ATLANTA (AP) — Rudy Giuliani faced hours of questioning 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 mayor and Trump attorney left the Fulton County courthouse without comment to reporters about six hours after the special grand jury convened on Wednesday as part of an escalating investigation fast that has ensnared 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 exited a black SUV 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.
Giuliani’s Atlanta-based attorney, Bill Thomas, declined to comment after Giuliani left the courthouse. Costello did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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.
Other Trump allies involved in the investigation include US Senator Lindsey Graham. His attorneys filed a motion on Wednesday asking a federal judge to stay Graham’s special grand jury appearance scheduled for Aug. 23 while the South Carolina Republican appeals an order compelling him to testify.
Fulton County prosecutors want to question Graham about phone calls they say they made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff in the weeks after the vote.
Graham’s attorneys, including former Trump White House attorney Don McGahn, are fighting the subpoena in federal court. They argue that Graham’s position in Congress protects him from having to appear before the grand jury. A federal judge dismissed that idea and ordered the senator to testify. Graham said he plans to appeal.
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.”
Associated Press writer Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina, contributed to this report.
Learn more about the investigations related to Donald Trump: https://apnews.com/hub/donald-trump.