Bad news for Team Kraken. A criminal investigation by a grand jury in Georgia over election interference has now formally targeted Rudy Giuliani. The move escalates the fight over actions taken by Donald Trump’s team in their efforts to reverse the 2020 election results in the Peach State:
Lawyers for Rudolph W. Giuliani have been told that he is a target of a criminal investigation in Georgia into election interference by Donald J. Trump and his advisers.
One of Mr. Giuliani’s lawyers said in an interview that he was notified on Monday. On the same day, a federal judge rejected efforts by another key Trump ally, Senator Lindsey Graham, to avoid giving testimony before a special grand jury in Atlanta.
Mr. Giuliani, who as Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer spearheaded efforts to keep Mr. Trump in power, emerged in recent weeks as a central figure in the inquiry being conducted by Fani T. Willis, the district attorney of Fulton County, Ga., which encompasses most of Atlanta.
The same grand jury subpoenaed Sen. Lindsey Graham over his contacts with secretary of state Brad Raffensperger, which Graham has resisted. A federal judged ruled earlier today that Graham will have to comply with that subpoena. That may well involve Giuliani as well, but the New York Times suggests that Giuliani may have a perjury problem as well:
Earlier this summer, prosecutors questioned witnesses before the special grand jury about Mr. Giuliani’s appearances before state legislative panels in December 2020, when he spent hours peddling false conspiracy theories about secret suitcases of Democratic ballots and corrupted voting machines.
The Associated Press sees this as a big risk for Giuliani, too. In fact, it might be the biggest risk he faces with the grand-jury probe:
It has also become clear that the district attorney is interested in Georgia legislative committee hearings that were held in December 2020 where Giuliani appeared and spread false claims of election fraud in Atlanta’s Fulton County.
Willis last month filed petitions seeking to compel testimony from seven Trump associates and advisers. Because they don’t live in Georgia, she had to use a process that involves asking a judge in the states where they live to order them to appear.
In a petition 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 “was part of a multi-state, coordinated plan by the Trump Campaign to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere,” the petition says.
Play stupid conspiracy-theory games, win stupid subpoena prizes. Much of the “Kraken” promised by Giuliani and Sidney Powell turned out to be based on false claims and wild speculation. Some of that is already being addressed in civil claims, most notably by Dominion and some of its employees. Repeating those theories under oath (or the legislative equivalent) puts one in clear danger of getting indicted — as seems to be the case with this targeting of Giuliani.
The grand jury can indict all day long, of course. The problem with both of those theories is proving a fraudulent intent when it comes to prosecuting the case. If Giuliani truly thought his testimony was accurate, then he might get a jury to let him off the hook. Perjury normally has to be willfully and materially false, which means that the prosecutors would have to prove that Giuliani didn’t believe his testimony when he gave it. Theoretically, they could get a conviction by proving that his refusal to believe it was irrational and willfully obtuse, but would a jury buy that in a perjury prosecution? Perhaps, but it would be a big roll of the dice, with plenty of potential political backfire.
This is, of course, why the grand jury wants to force Giuliani to testify on Wednesday. He will likely use the Fifth Amendment to refuse, which will leave the grand jury without direct testimony on Giuliani’s state of mind. One has to wonder, though, whether they have documentary evidence or witness testimony already that led them to specifically target Giuliani. You’d better believe Giuliani’s wondering about that, too.
Update: Is Giuliani going to testify on Wednesday rather than take the Fifth? Mediaite and MSNBC apparently think so:
Rudy Giuliani testifying before a grand jury is “suicidal,” MSNBC legal analyst and former prosecutor Cynthia Alksne declared shortly after it was revealed the former New York City mayor is the target of a criminal investigation.
Robert Costello, a lawyer for Giuliani, told the New York Times that Giuliani had been informed he was the target of an investigation, which is focused on alleged election interference by Donald Trump’s campaign in Georgia. Costello’s client is expected to testify before a grand jury on Monday.
Giuliani testifying is “shocking,” Alksne said when reacting to the news on Monday. The former mayor and Trump lawyer being informed he is a target of the investigation means the former mayor is “likely to be a defendant,” she added, and his testimony won’t help him. The “target letter,” Alksne said, means the grand jury believes there is “substantial evidence linking him to the crime.”
“I find it shocking that he would show up,” the legal analyst told MSNBC’s Katy Tur.
It’s a no-win situation for a target of a grand jury probe. There are no opportunities for a friendly presentation to the grand jury, and everything said is under oath.