Rudy Giuliani compelled to appear before Georgia grand jury

Investigation opened after then-president Donald Trump asked Georgia's secretary of state to 'find' votes for him

Rudy Giuliani arrived at an Atlanta courthouse to give evidence in an investigation into possible illegal attempts to influence the 2020 election in Georgia. AP
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Rudy Giuliani faced a special grand jury on Wednesday under a judge’s order to appear before a panel investigating attempts by former US president Donald Trump and others to overturn his 2020 election defeat in Georgia.

Mr Giuliani arrived at the Fulton County courthouse by limousine on Wednesday morning with his lawyer, Robert Costello, and declined to answer reporters' questions.

“Grand juries, as I recall, are secret,” Mr Giuliani, a former federal prosecutor, told reporters. “They ask the questions and we’ll see.”

Questioning will take place behind closed doors because the special grand jury proceedings are secret. People present during grand jury testimony are prohibited from discussing it, but that prohibition does not apply to witnesses.

It is unclear how much the former New York mayor and lawyer for Mr Trump will be willing to say now that his legal team has been informed that he is a target of the investigation.

Georgia Secretary of State testifies against Donald Trump in January 6 hearing

Georgia Secretary of State testifies against Donald Trump in January 6 hearing

Yet Mr Giuliani’s appearance is another high-profile step in a rapidly escalating investigation that has ensnared several Trump allies and brought heightened scrutiny to the ultimately failed efforts to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s 2020 election win.

It is one of several investigations into Mr Trump’s actions in office, as he lays the groundwork for another run at the White House in 2024.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis opened her investigation after the disclosure of a January 2, 2021, phone call between Mr Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

During the call, Mr Trump suggested that Mr Raffensperger could “find” the exact number of votes that would be needed to flip the election results in Georgia.

Mr Trump has denied any wrongdoing and has described the call as “perfect”.

Ms Willis last month filed petitions to compel evidence from seven Trump associates and advisers.

She has also said she is considering calling Mr Trump himself to give evidence, and the former president has hired a legal team in Atlanta that includes a prominent criminal defence lawyer.

In seeking Mr Giuliani’s testimony, Ms Willis noted that he was both a personal lawyer for Mr Trump and a lead lawyer for his 2020 campaign.

Former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani loses licence in New York

Former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani loses licence in New York

She recalled in a petition how Mr Giuliani and others had appeared at a state Senate committee meeting in late 2020 and presented a video that Mr Giuliani said showed election workers producing “suitcases” of unlawful ballots from unknown sources, outside the view of election poll watchers.

The claims of fraud were debunked by Georgia election officials within 24 hours, but Mr Giuliani continued to make statements to the public and in subsequent legislative hearings claiming widespread election fraud using the debunked video, Ms Willis noted in her filing.

Two of the election workers seen in the video, Ruby Freeman and Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, said they faced relentless harassment online and in person after it was shown at the December 3 Georgia legislative hearing in which Mr Giuliani appeared.

At another hearing a week later, Mr Giuliani said the footage showed the women “surreptitiously passing around USB ports as if they are vials of heroin or cocaine”. They actually were passing a piece of candy.

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Ms Willis wrote in the court filing that Mr Giuliani’s hearing appearance and evidence were “part of a multi-state, co-ordinated plan by the Trump campaign to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere”.

Other Trump allies have also been swept up in the investigation. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican senator, received a subpoena ordering him to appear on August 23.

Mr Graham has challenged that subpoena, citing his protections as a member of Congress. A judge on Monday rejected that argument and said he must give evidence. Mr Graham has said he will appeal.

Ms Willis has indicated she is interested in calls between Mr Graham and Mr Raffensperger about the results in Georgia in the weeks after the election.

Georgia official describes Trump's call to Raffensperger and recalls death threats

Georgia election official recalls threats from Trump supporters

Georgia election official recalls threats from Trump supporters

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Updated: August 17, 2022, 4:37 PM