Fulton judge orders Giuliani to testify before grand jury next week

Attorney sought accommodations for Giuliani as he recovers from medical procedure

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

A Fulton County judge is directing Rudy Giuliani, the personal attorney to former President Donald Trump, to appear before a special purpose grand jury next week unless he can provide more detailed medical explanation from his doctor about why he must further delay his testimony.

The comments from Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney came during a hearing on Tuesday, the same day that Giuliani was initially scheduled to testify before the 23-person panel, which is examining potential criminal interference in Georgia’s 2020 elections.

On Monday, Giuliani’s attorney, Bill Thomas, wrote in a court filing that the former New York City mayor could not make the trip to Atlanta because of a recent heart stent operation. He shared a note from Giuliani’s doctor stating that he could not fly.

Instead, Thomas said that Giuliani’s team had suggested to the Fulton District Attorney’s office, which is conducting the investigation, that Giuliani testify virtually, meet with prosecutors closer to the attorney’s home in New York or wait until the witness is cleared to fly. He insisted that Giuliani was not trying to dodge testifying.

“We just want a reasonable accommodation so a 78-year-old who has health conditions can get here, satisfy the directives from a New York court and this court,” Thomas told McBurney.

The Fulton special grand jury appears to be interested in several events involving Giuliani in late 2020.

It’s subpoenaed witnesses who heard Giuliani’s falsehood-filled testimony before two Georgia legislative committees in Dec. 2020. It’s also interested in the appointment of the slate of “alternate” Trump electors, which Giuliani reportedly helped quarterback for the Trump campaign.

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Jurors have also interviewed Georgia elected officials who received calls from Trump, Giuliani and campaign officials, including House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge. Ralston previously told a north Georgia website that Giuliani had called him in Dec. 2020.

During Tuesday’s hour-long hearing, it quickly became clear just how much communications between Giuliani’s team and the DA’s office had broken down.

Thomas said he was brought on late last week after Giuliani’s New York attorney failed to make headway with the DA’s office. He said prosecutors did not reach out to Giuliani’s doctor to confirm the lawyer’s condition and eventually stopped returning phone calls.

Nathan Wade, a Fulton prosecutor, said Giuliani’s team initially said he couldn’t travel at all. A day later, Giuliani tweeted a smiling photo of himself with a young woman in New Hampshire. (Giuliani’s lawyer later clarified that he had been driven to New England.)

In a Monday court filing, the DA’s office also said it had received evidence that Giuliani purchased plane tickets to Italy and Switzerland for dates after his surgery. Thomas said those tickets were for a conference and other events scheduled before Giuliani’s procedure and that he ultimately cancelled his trip.

McBurney said he will soon issue an order directing Giuliani to appear on Aug. 17th, barring more detail from Giuliani’s doctor about why driving or taking public transportation to Atlanta wouldn’t be feasible.

“That’s plenty of time to make the trip, a 13-hour drive,” he said. “New York is not close to Atlanta, but it’s not traveling from Fairbanks.”

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

One question that was not answered during Tuesday’s hearing is whether Giuliani is a target of the investigation.

Thomas said the answer would shape the approach Giuliani’s team would take to their client’s testimony.

Regardless, it’s likely Giuliani will cite attorney-client or even executive privilege on many of the questions he would receive from prosecutors or jurors.

The 16 Republicans who claimed to be Georgia’s “duly elected” presidential electors were recently informed by the DA’s office that they’re targets of the probe and could be indicted. But McBurney recently ruled that the portion of the case involving one of the electors, state Sen. Burt Jones, would be handled by another, to-be-determined set of prosecutors after Fulton DA Fani Willis had a conflict of interest.

On Wednesday, attorneys for U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham are slated to appear before a federal judge to argue why their client shouldn’t have to appear in front of the special grand jury.

What’s next:

Wednesday: Attorneys for U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) are scheduled to argue in federal court why their client shouldn’t have to honor his subpoena from the special grand jury.

Next week: Hearings are scheduled in Colorado and New Mexico for subpoena challenges lodged by two lawyers affiliated with the Trump campaign, Jenna Ellis and John Eastman.

Aug. 17: Barring more information from his doctor, attorney Rudy Giuliani is being ordered to testify before the grand jury.