Newt Gingrich to challenge Fulton grand jury subpoena

Credit: Elijah Nouvelage/Special to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Elijah Nouvelage/Special to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Ex-speaker: Testimony ‘unnecessary’ because of Jan. 6 committee appearance

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich plans to fight a Fulton County subpoena seeking his testimony before the special purpose grand jury examining attempts to overturn Georgia’s 2020 elections.

Attorneys for the Trump ally plan to tell a Fairfax, Va., circuit court judge on Wednesday that the onetime Georgia congressman should not be forced to testify because of technicalities surrounding the decades-old law that lays out how states recognize subpoenas from elsewhere.

They also will argue that the Republican’s testimony is “not necessary” because Gingrich is already scheduled to speak to the Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol on Nov. 21.

“Speaker Gingrich has already agreed to a transcribed meeting with the Select Committee to address the matters set forth in the Select Committee’s letter and, when it becomes available, will provide a transcript of this meeting to the Georgia district attorney,” Gingrich’s attorney John Burlingame wrote in a Monday court filing. “It is totally unnecessary to compel Speaker Gingrich to travel to Georgia to address the exact same topics, and ordering him to travel to Georgia to do so imposes an undue burden.”

The Fulton grand jury is seeking Gingrich’s testimony on Nov. 16.

A Fulton County Superior Court judge last month issued what’s known as a certificate of material witness for the former congressman, which will essentially function as a subpoena once approved by a judge in Fairfax County, where Gingrich resides.

The petition relies on evidence made available this fall by the Select Committee. According to the panel, Gingrich urged the Trump campaign “to air advertisements promoting the false narrative that election workers had smuggled suitcases containing fake ballots” at Atlanta’s State Farm Arena.

The 79-year-old was also involved in the plan to appoint a slate of “alternate” Republican electors in swing states like Georgia that were narrowly won by Joe Biden, according to the committee.

The special grand jury said it’s uncovered evidence of a “multi-state, coordinated plan by the Trump Campaign to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere.”

Gingrich represented a Cobb County-centered district in the U.S. House for more than two decades. He spent four of those years as speaker, during which he pioneered an unapologetic, scorched earth style of conservative politics.

He won Georgia in his failed 2012 bid for the Republican nomination for president but dropped out of the race soon afterward. He’s remained active in Georgia and national politics and was an informal adviser to Trump.

Gingrich’s argument that a Virginia resident could not be compelled to testify in Georgia is inspired by one used by a Texas-based witness for the investigation, attorney and podcast host Jacki Pick, that generated approval from a handful of Lone Star State judges earlier this fall.

Pick’s lawyers argued that the Fulton special grand jury proceedings are civil, not criminal, because they lack the power to indict, and thus are exempted from interstate guidelines for witness subpoenas. Fulton Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, who is overseeing the grand jury, has stated in the past that the proceedings are indeed criminal, but several judges on the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas expressed skepticism in their ruling on Pick’s challenge.

Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows also employed the argument at a hearing last month but was rejected. Meadows’ attorney has suggested he will appeal the ruling.

In the Fairfax County court filing, Burlingame included a letter he recently sent to a top investigator for the Select Committee that said Gingrich had requested that his interview with the panel be conducted “publicly.” The letter noted the committee had turned down that request but that a transcript of Gingrich’s interview would be released when the committee files its final report in November.

Burlingame said Gingrich would have “no objection” if the committee provided a copy of the interview transcript to the Fulton District Attorney’s office in advance of the final report.

A spokesman for the Select Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Arguments will be heard by Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Robert J. Smith on Wednesday morning. The Office of the Fairfax Commonwealth’s Attorney will argue in favor of the Fulton DA’s office, which is overseeing the special grand jury.

The special grand jury has sought out and ultimately received testimony from several witnesses who also spoke to the Select Committee, including Trump’s onetime personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and campaign lawyers John Eastman and Kenneth Chesebro.

The grand jury, which has taken a month-long break in advance of the election, is expected to resume its more public activities after Georgia’s marquee political contests are resolved.

A key Gingrich confidante, Atlanta attorney and former Ambassador to Luxembourg Randy Evans, said he will speak to the grand jury in mid-November.