ATLANTA — The legal pressure on Donald J. Trump and his closest allies intensified further on Monday, when prosecutors informed his former personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, that Mr. Giuliani is the target of a wide-ranging criminal investigation into election interference in Georgia.
The notification came the same day a federal judge rejected efforts by another key Trump ally, Sen. Lindsey Graham, to avoid testifying before a special grand jury hearing evidence in the case in Atlanta.
One of Mr. Giuliani’s lawyers, Robert Costello, said in an interview that he was notified on Monday that his client was a target. Being so identified does not guarantee that a person will be charged; rather, it usually means that prosecutors believe an indictment is possible, based on evidence they’ve seen so far.
Mr. Giuliani, who as the personal lawyer of Mr. Trump led efforts to keep Mr. Trump in office, emerged in recent weeks as a central figure in the investigation being conducted by Fani T. Willis, the district attorney of Fulton County, Ga., which covers most of Atlanta.
Earlier this summer, prosecutors questioned witnesses before a special grand jury about Mr. Giuliani before state legislative panels in December 2020, when he spent hours peddling false conspiracy theories about secret Democratic ballot bags and corrupt voting machines.
For Mr. Giuliani, the former New York mayor, is the latest in a series of mounting problems, although he received some good news recently when it emerged he was unlikely to face charges in a federal criminal investigation into his ties to Ukraine during the 2020 presidential campaign.
Mr. Giuliani is scheduled to appear before a special grand jury Wednesday in a downtown Atlanta courthouse. His lawyer, Mr. Costello said in the interview that Mr. Giuliani would likely invoke attorney-client privilege if asked about his dealings with Mr. trump “If these people think they’re going to talk about conversations between him and President Trump, they’re delusional,” Costello said.
The rejection of Senator Graham’s effort to avoid testifying came in a written order from Atlanta Federal District Court Judge Leigh Martin May. Mr. Graham, Republican of South Carolina, is now due to testify on August 23.
The judge found that prosecutors had shown there is “a special need for Mr. Graham’s testimony on matters related to alleged attempts to influence or disrupt the lawful administration of the 2022 election in Georgia.”
Mr. Graham’s lawyers have said prosecutors told him he was a witness, not a target.
An immediate legal threat to Trump. Fani T. Willis, the district attorney for the Atlanta area, has been investigating whether former President Donald J. Trump and his allies interfered in the 2020 election in Georgia. The case could be one of the most dangerous legal problems for Mr. Trump. Here’s what you need to know:
The prosecution wants his testimony for several reasons. Among them, there are two phone calls that Mr. Graham did just after the 2020 election to Brad Raffensperger, the secretary of state of Georgia, in which Mr. Graham asked about ways to help Mr. Trump invalidating certain mail-in votes.
The post-electoral activities of Mr. Giuliani on behalf of Mr. Trump has created problems for him on several fronts. The House committee in Washington investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol has highlighted video footage of Mr Giuliani’s activities in Georgia, and the plan to create rival lists of presidential electors is also under investigation intensified by the Department of Justice. Mr. Giuliani is among the subjects of civil lawsuits by two voting machine manufacturers, Dominion and Smartmatic, seeking billions of dollars in damages.
Much of the conduct of Mr. Giuliani in Georgia was brought up last year by the New York state appeals court that suspended his law license. The court issued a 33-page report that mentioned Georgia 35 times and described “numerous false and misleading statements about the results of the presidential election in Georgia” made by Mr. Giuliani. The court noted, for example, that Mr. Giuliani had falsely claimed that tens of thousands of underage teenagers had voted illegally in Georgia, even though an audit by the Georgia secretary of state found that no under 18 had voted in 2020. election.
Mr. Giuliani was also a central figure in the Trump campaign’s plan to urge lawmakers in swing states to appoint electoral rolls other than those chosen by voters, which is part of the Georgia investigation and the Department of Justice investigation.
A spokesman for the Fulton County District Attorney’s office declined to comment Monday. In the past, Ms. Willis has said the Georgia investigation could result in racketeering or conspiracy charges involving multiple defendants.
Norman Eisen, a lawyer who served as special counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during the first trial and trial of Mr. Trump said he believed identifying Mr. Giuliani as a target could mean that Mr. Trump will also be a target. .
“There’s no way that Giuliani will be a target of the prosecutor’s investigation and Trump won’t end up as one,” Mr. Eisen in an interview Monday. “They are simply too entangled factually and legally in an attempt to use bogus voters and other means to overturn Georgia’s election results.”
The lawyers of Mr. Giuliani has said he did nothing improper in Georgia and has been willing to cooperate. But they have been arguing with Ms. Willis’ office about their efforts to get him to testify before a grand jury. The lawyers of Mr. Giuliani have said that a doctor recommended that Mr. Giuliani did not travel by plane because of a procedure he underwent in early July to place heart stents, and they have tried to delay his testimony or have it done by video conference, an idea that the district attorney’s office has resisted
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert CI McBurney said last week that Mr Giuliani could travel to Atlanta “on a train, on a bus or Uber” and set a date for Wednesday, after agreeing to delay his appearance for more than a week. . Mr. Giuliani’s lawyers indicated that, in any case, their client would have little to say if he were named as a target of the investigation.
“I think it would be disingenuous to make, as a goal, to have him travel here, especially by these alternative means, when there probably wouldn’t be much testimony before the grand jury,” another Giuliani lawyer, William H. Thomas. Jr., he said after a court hearing.
At least 17 other people have already been named as targets who could face charges in the investigation, including two state senators and the head of the state Republican Party.
The lawyers of Mr. Graham had based his argument that he should not be required to testify on the Constitution’s speech and debate clause, which protects lawmakers from being questioned about things they say are related to their official duties. Among other things, the lawyers argued that Mr Graham, as a senior civil servant, could only be called in in “extraordinary circumstances”.
Judge May ruled that prosecutors had shown that such extraordinary circumstances exist.
Mr. Graham has argued that his phone calls to Mr. Raffensperger were protected by the speech and debate clause because they were investigative in nature and related to his position, at the time, as chairman of the Judiciary Committee. But the judge, in her order, noted that “individuals on the calls have publicly suggested that Senator Graham was not simply engaged in legislative fact-finding” and that he was “attempting to influence the actions of Secretary Raffensperger” to benefit mr trump (Mr. Raffensperger has said that Mr. Graham seemed to suggest that he find a way to throw out legally cast votes.)
Judge May’s ruling essentially left it up to the state court to determine what elements of Mr. Graham should be protected under the Speech and Debate Clause.
But he also noted that beyond the phone calls, there were many other items of interest to the special grand jury that were certainly fair game, including Mr. Graham’s “potential communications and coordination with the Trump campaign and his post-election efforts in Georgia.”
Prosecutors are asking that two other lawyers on the Trump team, Jenna Ellis and John Eastman, also appear before the special grand jury. The participation of Ms. Ellis, a resident of Colorado, will be arraigned in a court hearing scheduled for Tuesday in Fort Collins, Colorado. A similar hearing will be held for Mr. Eastman, a New Mexico resident, in a Santa Fe, NM court on Wednesday.
Mr. Costello, the lawyer for Mr. Giuliani was asked by a reporter Monday what mode of transportation his client would use when heading to Atlanta from New York.
“No comment,” said Mr. rib
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