Credit: Stephen Fowler / GPB News
Fulton County special grand jury seeks info from top Trump allies
A Fulton County special grand jury has issued subpoenas to some of the key figures behind former President Donald Trump’s failed efforts to reverse his narrow defeat, as a wide-ranging investigation into possible criminal interference ratchets up.
Those summoned by the seven subpoenas approved Tuesday include Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney; Cleta Mitchell, who was on the infamous 2021 call with Georgia’s secretary of state in which Trump wanted to “find” votes; John Eastman, who told Georgia lawmakers they had a “duty” to submit alternate electors; and others who guided attempts to subvert election results.
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is also being subpoenaed in relation to phone calls he made with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger regarding absentee ballot rejections, according to the filings.
A 23-person special grand jury has been meeting to determine what, if any, state laws were broken in the months long attempt to undo President Joe Biden’s roughly 12,000-vote victory over then-President Trump, including potential crimes such as “the solicitation of election fraud, making of false statements to state and local governmental bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office” and other disruptions to the election.
Recent witness testimony includes Raffensperger, state Sen. Jen Jordan (currently the Democratic nominee for attorney general) and state Rep. Bee Nguyen, the Democratic secretary of state nominee.
Tuesday's court filings shed light on the potential direction of the investigation into crimes related to Trump’s obsession with Georgia in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election. That interest was fueled by a variety of figures who provided dubious legal justifications for undoing his defeat, including Giuliani and Eastman.
The court documents note Giuliani’s presentation to state lawmakers in an unofficial hearing in December 2020 that included numerous false claims about Georgia’s elections, even after several claims were debunked by state and local officials.
“Despite this, the Witness made additional statements, both to the public and in subsequent legislative hearings, claiming widespread voter fraud in Georgia,” the summons reads.
Giuliani’s lawyer Robert Costello said in a statement to NPR “we have not been served with any subpoena, so we have no current comment.”
Eastman, who pushed a theory that then-Vice President Mike Pence could overturn the 2020 election results and also asked for a presidential pardon, also told state lawmakers that they could ignore Georgia’s election results and appoint an alternate slate of electors.
Other figures named Tuesday include Jenna Ellis, who authored memos citing disputed legal theories to justify Pence rejecting electors from Georgia and other swing states, and Kenneth Chesebro, a lawyer who allegedly worked with Georgia GOP chairman David Shafer to have 16 people secretly meet in the state capitol building to serve as fake electors.
The court documents say Chesebro drafted two documents in support of the plan, provided a Microsoft Word document template for the fake elector plot and told the state party he was working with Giuliani to implement the plan.
Georgia has played an outsized role in the fallout from the last presidential election, including the leadup to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection. The House committee investigating the attack has featured several Georgia witnesses in recent weeks in their effort to outline how Trump’s refusal to accept defeat contributed to the violent attempt to stop the Electoral College certification.
Raffensperger, his top deputy and a former Fulton County poll worker testified about the negative impact of false claims made about the election from individuals like Giuliani, including death threats and disruptions.
Georgia’s special grand jury cannot indict individuals, but will make recommendations to Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis about how to proceed.