A special grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, tasked with investigating potential crimes of interference in the state’s elections in 2020, has subpoenaed seven individuals who were in former President Donald Trump’s inner circle at the time of the alleged misconduct — including two of his former lawyers, Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman, and current U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina).
The subpoenas, which were filed on Tuesday, were signed by Fulton County Superior Judge Robert McBurney, who, as the supervising judge of the special grand jury, has to sign off on all subpoena orders that involve people who reside out of state, per Georgia law. Several state officials have already appeared before the special grand jury to discuss their knowledge of Trump’s behavior and the actions of his campaign members in the weeks after the presidential election.
The subpoenas issued on Tuesday demonstrate that the investigation isn’t just focused on Trump, but also on members of his inner circle who tried to influence election officials to overturn the results.
During a public hearing in Georgia after the race was called for Biden, for instance, Giuliani peddled false claims that election fraud had taken place — including a debunked story that suitcases of ballots for Biden were stuffed into voting machines after Republican poll watchers were sent home on Election Night.
Eastman, who also helped plan the fake electors plot that was carried out across several states, was at that same hearing. He wrongly asserted that there was “more than enough” evidence of fraud to justify the Georgia legislature overturning the will of voters in the state to pick their own set of Trump-friendly electors, an action that would have likely violated state law.
Graham personally called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s (R) office twice after Trump’s loss in Georgia to ask about “reexamining certain absentee ballots cast in Georgia in order to explore the possibility of a more favorable outcome for former President Donald Trump.”
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has been leading the investigation into attempts by Trump and his allies to persuade or coerce Georgia election officials to change the outcome of the presidential race, which President Joe Biden won in the state by a margin of less than 12,000 votes. The special grand jury cannot itself issue indictments, but it can make recommendations to file criminal charges, after which Willis can convene a standard grand jury for the purpose of doing so.
The evidence against Trump is indeed damning. In a phone conversation with Raffensperger and his lawyer, Ryan Germany, Trump infamously told Raffensperger to “find” him 11,780 votes — the exact number needed to overcome Biden’s margin — and threatened that the Georgia official could face legal ramifications if he refused to do so.
It is against the law in Georgia to coerce, command, threaten or otherwise try to get state election officials to engage in election fraud.
According to some legal experts, who cite evidence shared by the House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol attack, the Georgia inquiry is the investigation that’s most likely to result in indictments or convictions against Trump and his allies.
“Once you look at what [Trump] said, trying to get Brad Raffensperger to come up with extra votes to make him a winner in Georgia, and put in the context about the January 6th committee has found, I think they have gotten a case beyond a reasonable doubt,” Nick Akerman, a former Watergate prosecutor, said last month.