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Giuliani Targeted in Criminal Probe    08/16 06:08


   ATLANTA (AP) -- Rudy Giuliani is a target of the criminal investigation into 
possible illegal attempts by then-President Donald Trump and others to 
interfere in the 2020 general election in Georgia, prosecutors informed 
attorneys for the former New York mayor on Monday.

   The revelation that Giuliani, an outspoken Trump defender, could face 
criminal charges from the investigation by Fulton County District Attorney Fani 
Willis edges the probe closer to the former president. Willis has said she is 
considering calling Trump himself to testify before the special grand jury, and 
the former president has hired a criminal defense attorney in Atlanta.

   Law enforcement scrutiny of Trump has escalated dramatically. Last week, the 
FBI searched his Florida home as part of its investigation into whether he took 
classified records from the White House to Mar-a-Lago. He is also facing a 
civil investigation in New York over allegations that his company, the Trump 
Organization, misled banks and tax authorities about the value of his assets. 
And the Justice Department is investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. 
Capitol by Trump supporters as well as efforts by him and his allies to 
overturn the election he falsely claimed was stolen.

   Giuliani, who spread false claims of election fraud in Atlanta's Fulton 
County as he led election-challenging efforts in Georgia, is to testify 
Wednesday before a special grand jury that was impaneled at Willis' request. 
Giuliani's lawyer declined to say whether he would answer questions or decline.

   Special prosecutor Nathan Wade alerted Giuliani's team in Atlanta that he 
was an investigation target, Giuliani attorney Robert Costello said Monday. 
News of the disclosure was first reported by The New York Times.

   Speaking on a New York radio show Monday, Giuliani said he had been serving 
as Trump's attorney in Georgia.

   "You do this to a lawyer, we don't have America anymore," he said.

   Earlier Monday, a federal judge said U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham must testify 
before the special grand jury. Prosecutors have said they want to ask Graham 
about phone calls they say he made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad 
Raffensperger and his staff in the weeks following the election.

   Willis's investigation was spurred by a phone call between Trump and 
Raffensperger. During that January 2021 conversation, Trump suggested that 
Raffensperger "find" the votes needed to reverse his narrow loss in the state.

   Willis last month filed petitions seeking to compel testimony from seven 
Trump associates and advisers.

   In seeking Giuliani's testimony, Willis identified him as both a personal 
attorney for Trump and a lead attorney for his campaign. She wrote that he and 
others appeared at a state Senate committee meeting and presented a video that 
Giuliani said showed election workers producing "suitcases" of unlawful ballots 
from unknown sources, outside the view of election poll watchers.

   Within 24 hours of that Dec. 3, 2020, hearing, Raffensperger's office had 
debunked the video. But Giuliani continued to make statements to the public and 
in subsequent legislative hearings claiming widespread voter fraud using the 
debunked video, Willis wrote.

   Evidence shows that Giuliani's hearing appearance and testimony were "part 
of a multi-state, coordinated plan by the Trump Campaign to influence the 
results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere," her petition 

   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 a Dec. 3 Georgia legislative hearing where Giuliani appeared. 
At another hearing a week later, 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.

   Willis also wrote in a petition seeking the testimony of attorney Kenneth 
Chesebro that he worked with Giuliani to coordinate and carry out a plan to 
have Georgia Republicans serve as fake electors. Those 16 people signed a 
certificate declaring falsely that Trump had won the 2020 presidential election 
and declaring themselves the state's "duly elected and qualified" electors even 
though Joe Biden had won the state and a slate of Democratic electors was 

   All 16 of those fake electors have received letters saying they are targets 
of the investigation, Willis said in a court filing last month.

   As for Graham, attorneys for the South Carolina Republican have argued that 
his position as a U.S. senator provides him immunity from having to appear 
before the investigative panel. But U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May wrote 
in an order Monday that immunities related to his role as a senator do not 
protect him from having to testify. Graham's subpoena instructs him to appear 
before the special grand jury on Aug. 23, but his office said Monday he plans 
to appeal.

   May last month rejected a similar attempt by U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., to 
avoid testifying before the special grand jury.

   Graham's office said in a statement Monday that the senator disagrees with 
the judge's interpretation of the provision of the Constitution he believes 
protects him from being questioned by a state official. His lawyers have said 
he was making inquiries that were part of his legislative duties, related to 
certification of the vote and to a proposal of election-related legislation.

   But the judge wrote that that ignores "the fact that individuals on the 
calls have publicly suggested that Senator Graham was not simply engaged in 
legislative factfinding but was instead suggesting or implying that Georgia 
election officials change their processes or otherwise potentially alter the 
state's results."

   In calls made shortly after the 2020 general election, Graham "questioned 
Raffensperger and his staff about reexamining certain absentee ballots cast in 
Georgia in order to explore the possibility of a more favorable outcome for 
former President Donald Trump," Willis wrote in a petition.

   Graham also "made reference to allegations of widespread voter fraud in the 
November 2020 election in Georgia, consistent with public statements made by 
known affiliates of the Trump Campaign," she wrote.

   Republican and Democratic state election officials across the country, 
courts and even Trump's attorney general have found there was no evidence of 
voter fraud sufficient to affect the outcome of his 2020 presidential election 

   Trump-allied lawmakers were planning to challenge the tallies from several 
battleground states when Congress convened on Jan. 6, 2021, to certify the 
results under the Electoral Count Act, but after the Capitol attack that day 
Georgia's tally was never contested.

   Trump has denied any wrongdoing and has described his call to Raffensperger 
as "perfect."

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