July 7, 2022
Seven advisers to and allies of former President Donald Trump—including his former personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and GOP Senator Lindsey Graham—were subpoenaed on Tuesday, July 5, in the ongoing criminal investigation in Georgia of election interference by Trump and his associates, reports The New York Times.
The move was the latest sign that the inquiry has entangled a number of prominent members of Trump’s orbit and may cloud the future for the former president.
The subpoenas underscore the breadth of the investigation by Fani T. Willis, the district attorney of Fulton County, which encompasses most of Atlanta. She is weighing a range of charges, according to legal filings, including racketeering and conspiracy, and her inquiry has encompassed witnesses from beyond the state.
The latest round of subpoenas was reported earlier by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
According to the Times, the Fulton County investigation is one of several inquiries into efforts by Trump and his team to overturn the election, but it is the one that appears to put them in the greatest immediate legal jeopardy.
A House special committee continues to investigate the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. And there is an intensifying investigation by the Justice Department into a scheme to create slates of fake presidential electors in 2020.
Amid the deepening investigations, Trump is weighing an early entrance into the 2024 presidential race; people close to him have said he believes it would bolster his claims that the investigations are politically motivated.
A subpoena is not an indication that someone is a subject of an inquiry, although some of the latest recipients are considered at risk in the case—in particular, Giuliani, who has emerged as a central figure in the grand jury proceedings in the Georgia investigation. Giuliani spent several hours speaking before state legislative panels in December 2020, where he peddled false conspiracy theories about corrupted voting machines and a video that he claimed showed secret suitcases of Democratic ballots. He told members of the State House at the time, “You cannot possibly certify Georgia in good faith.”
Willis’s office, in its subpoena, said Giuliani “possesses unique knowledge concerning communications between himself, former President Trump, the Trump campaign, and other known and unknown individuals involved in the multistate, coordinated efforts to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere.”
Though the subpoenas were issued Tuesday, not all had necessarily been received. Robert J. Costello, a lawyer for Mr. Giuliani, said, “We have not been served with any subpoena, therefore we have no current comment.”
Others sent subpoenas included Jenna Ellis, a lawyer who worked closely with Giuliani to overturn the 2020 election results; John Eastman, the legal architect of a plan to keep Trump in power by using fake electors; and Graham, the South Carolina Republican who called Georgia Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, a fellow Republican, days after the election to inquire about the rules for discarding mail-in ballots.
Another prominent lawyer who received a subpoena, Cleta Mitchell, was on a January 2, 2021, call that Trump made to Raffensperger, during which he asked the secretary of state to find enough votes to reverse Georgia’s results. The subpoena to her said, “During the telephone call, the witness and others made allegations of widespread voter fraud in the November 2020 election in Georgia and pressured Secretary Raffensperger to take action in his official capacity to investigate unfounded claims of fraud.”
Two other Trump lawyers also have been subpoenaed: Jacki Pick Deason, who helped make the Trump team’s case before the Georgia legislature, and Kenneth Chesebro, whose role has come into sharper focus during the House January 6 hearings. In an email exchange with Eastman in the run-up to the January 6 attack, Chesebro wrote that the Supreme Court would be more likely to act on a Wisconsin legal challenge “if the justices start to fear that there will be ‘wild’ chaos on January 6 unless they rule by then, either way.”
The special grand jury was impaneled in early May and has up to one year to complete its work before issuing a report advising Willis on whether to pursue criminal charges, although Willis has said she hopes to conclude much sooner. In official letters sent to potential witnesses, her office has said that it is examining potential violations that include “the solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local governmental bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election’s administration.”
The new subpoenas offered some further clues about where her investigation is focused.
Research contact: @nytimes