The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Fulton County special grand jury investigating potential criminal interference in Georgia’s 2020 elections has subpoenaed members of Trump’s legal team and inner circle. Two big names included are Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, and Senator Lindsey Graham. Others involved are Trump campaign advisers and legal team members John Eastman, Cleta Mitchell, Kenneth Chesebro, and Jenna Ellis. An attorney and podcaster, Jacki Pick Deason, is also among those subpoenaed.
It’s easy to forget that the Fulton County (Atlanta) grand jury has been working all this time, especially since the media circus created by the January 6 hearings has been plastered on cable news.
The subpoenas were filed July 5 and signed by Fulton Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, who is overseeing the special grand jury. They noted that all seven people were “a necessary and material witness” to the investigation.
Unlike subpoenas issued to Georgians, the summons required McBurney’s blessing since they are for people who reside outside the state.
The 23-person special grand jury has heard testimony in recent weeks from a parade of witnesses, including some who had direct contact with Trump and his associates in late 2020 and early 2021. But Tuesday’s subpoenas are the closest jurors have gotten to the Trump campaign or inner circle of the former president.
Rudy Giuliani testified before Georgia legislators in late 2020 but failed to prove his case as he showed surveillance video of ballots being counted in Atlanta. He called the video, allegedly edited, “a powerful smoking gun.” It shows election workers pulling out suitcases of ballots to count after Republican poll watchers were sent home for the night. The Secretary of State’s office denied Rudy’s claims but Rudy continued to show the video and make statements about its validity. Giuliani, formerly dubbed America’s Mayor, was suspended from practicing law in New York partly because of his testimony in Georgia.
Cleta Mitchell is a conservative lawyer in Washington, D.C. She advised Trump on the infamous phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on January 2, 2021. That’s the call where Trump asked Raffensperger to find 11,780 votes so he could be declared the winner. Senator Graham also called Raffensperger and his staff twice. He asked them to reexamine some absentee ballots. Graham denies any wrongdoing.
Some may make it difficult for the grand jury to secure testimony from them if they argue attorney-client privilege.
Fulton County DA Fani Willis launched a criminal probe in February 2021 after the phone call between Trump and Raffensperger leaked to the press. The investigation has expanded to include other efforts to pressure Georgia officials to act in Trump’s favor.
The special grand jury has permission to meet until May 2023, though Willis said she’s expecting the group’s work to wrap up long before then. Jurors are expected to draft a report at the end of their service recommending whether Willis should press charges against Trump or his allies, though the final decision ultimately rests with the DA, a Democrat elected in 2020.
Let’s hope this all wraps up sooner rather than later. Trump is already talking about announcing his candidacy for a presidential run in the 2024 election. This is the deepest the DA has gone into Trump’s inner circle of 2020 advisers. The net is tightening and we’ll see if the grand jury investigation bears fruit.