Rudy Giuliani, the former personal lawyer to former President Donald Trump, has been ordered to appear before a special grand jury in Georgia by a New York state Supreme Court justice.
Giuliani was subpoenaed earlier this month by the special grand jury, which is aiding in the investigation of Trump and his allies’ attempts to overturn the Georgia presidential election results from 2020. The investigation is being led by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who filed paperwork this week revealing that Giuliani had recently been ordered to appear before the grand jury.
After the subpoena was issued, the matter was transferred to New York Supreme Court Justice Thomas Farber, who had to decide whether Giuliani, a resident of New York, had to appear in Georgia to give testimony. Farber ordered Giuliani to appear before him in court on July 11, but Giuliani failed to do so. On July 13, Farber officially ordered Giuliani to adhere to the subpoena from Willis and the grand jury.
Giuliani is considered to be the closest figure to Trump to be implicated in the inquiry so far. Trump himself has not yet been served a subpoena to appear before the grand jury.
Giuliani still has the legal ability to fight the subpoena order if he wants to argue against having to testify. But because of Farber’s order, Giuliani must make his case within the state of Georgia, rather than in New York.
If Giuliani fails to make the case that he shouldn’t have to testify, and subsequently doesn’t appear before the grand jury, he could be subject to an arrest warrant that would compel him to testify.
Seven Trump allies, including Giuliani, Trump lawyer John Eastman, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), have been ordered by the grand jury to testify. According to Giuliani’s subpoena order, Georgia investigators believe that he “possesses unique knowledge concerning communications between himself, former President Trump, the Trump campaign, and other known and unknown individuals involved in the multistate, coordinated efforts to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere.”
Giuliani has spent much of his time post-election pushing false claims of election fraud before state legislative panels throughout the country, including in Georgia. Speaking to state lawmakers in December 2020, Giuliani claimed that voting machines in Georgia had been tampered with, and that there was video evidence that additional, illegitimate ballots for President Joe Biden were being counted. Neither of those claims, nor others peddled by the former New York City mayor, have ever been substantiated with evidence.
The Fulton County investigation stems from an audio recording, released in early January 2021, that shows Trump trying to influence state officials to “find” him enough votes to overturn Biden’s win in Georgia. Trump made direct threats to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his legal counsel, telling them that they could face a “big risk,” legally speaking, if they didn’t help him flip the race.
In the state of Georgia, it is illegal to coerce, command, or otherwise try to get state election officials to engage in election fraud. A person convicted of such a charge faces one to three years of imprisonment.