The Jolt: Trump grand jury hears from subpoenaed state Senate Democrats

News and information from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

As the national media focuses on the Jan. 6 committee hearings on Capitol Hill, testimony quietly continues behind closed doors before the Fulton County special grand jury probing former President Donald Trump.

The AJC’s Tamar Hallerman tells us that jurors heard yesterday from Democratic state Sens. Jen Jordan and Elena Parent, who were both at a Dec. 2020 hearing with Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani.

Jordan and Parent were among the only lawmakers to push back against Giuliani’s testimony about Georgia’s elections system, which was filled with conspiracy theories, falsehoods and half-truths.

Both received threats as a result and Parent ultimately requested police protection.

In addition to being questioned about Giuliani’s testimony, Hallerman learned that at least one of the senators was asked about the “alternative” GOP electors who filed fake documents claiming to be the state’s true electors to the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

State Rep. Bee Nguyen, who just won the Democratic nomination for Secretary of State on Tuesday, is slated to appear before the special grand jury this morning. She sits on a House committee that also heard from Giuliani in late 2020.

Attorney General Chris Carr testified before the panel on Tuesday. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger did the same earlier this month.

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MORE SUBPOENAS SENT. Along with the January 6th hearings and the Fulton County probe, the U.S. Justice Department is conducting its own criminal investigation into the events after the 2020 elections.

As a part of the feds’ widening effort, one of your Insiders reported Wednesday that at least two Georgia Republicans were served with subpoenas-- party chairman David Shafer and Brad Carver, one of the party loyalists who served as a fake elector for Trump as the former president sought to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in Georgia.

The expanded effort is national in scope. Officials in Arizona were also served with subpoenas Wednesday, while Nevada’s top GOP official was served a search warrant from the FBI related to his role in that state’s fake elector scheme.

A flashback from the day it happened in Georgia:

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JUSTICE FOCUS. The January 6th House committee will hold its fifth hearing this afternoon. Expect a focus on how then-President Donald Trump pressured officials at the Department of Justice to investigate his baseless claims of election fraud, including in Georgia.

The witness list includes former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue and Steven Engel, a former assistant attorney general.

Also look for the committee to show excerpts of earlier testimony from former Atlanta-based U.S. Attorney Byung “BJay” Pak, who resigned abruptly in January after he learned Trump wanted to fire him for refusing to substantiate false claims of election irregularities.

Our Washington Insider will be in the room where it happens.

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SPEAKER STREAK. If there was a Stacey Sweep in Tuesday’s runoffs, then maybe there should also be a nickname for the House speaker’s track record this election cycle: Ralston’s rout.

House Speaker David Ralston tallied wins when state Rep. Sheri Gilligan, a frequent critic, lost her seat in Tuesday’s runoffs and two other far-right exurban candidates opposed by the House GOP caucus went down in defeat.

Other challengers backed by the uber-conservative Georgia Republican Assembly fell in the May primaries – with a notable exception. Ralston nemesis state Rep. David Clark ousted state Rep. Bonnie Rich, a key ally of the speaker.

In all, the House Republican Caucus had a 96% win rate for the primary cycle for the races it engaged, losing only the Rich seat.

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LISTEN UP. We break down what else we learned from Tuesday’s runoff and what we’ve heard so far in the January 6th hearings in the midweek edition of the Politically Georgia podcast.

Listen at the AJC or at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or Stitcher.

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AD VOLLEY. One day after Gov. Brian Kemp’s campaign put up an ad accusing Stacey Abrams of wanting to defund the police, which her camp disputes, Abrams is hitting Kemp with an ad slamming him for eliminating permits to carry a concealed weapon in the state.

In the ad, a pediatric nurse calls the permitless carry legislation “not only irresponsible, it’s directly harmful to Georgia’s children and families.”

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PEACH PITCH. Georgia Democrats are making their pitch Thursday to national officials to land a coveted spot as one of the earliest states to vote in the 2024 presidential primary.

The current nominating calendar process puts Iowa and Nevada as the first states to caucus, while New Hampshire and South Carolina are the first states that hold presidential primary elections.

Georgia Democratic leaders plan to highlight how making Georgia an early primary state would showcase the party’s commitment to diversity when they present to the Democratic National Committee officials.

And they’re certain to emphasize Georgia’s status as one of the nation’s premier battleground states, thanks to Joe Biden’s narrow victory in 2020 and the party’s sweep of the U.S Senate runoffs in 2021.

The idea could generate an economic boon for Georgia, as presidential campaigns spend tens of millions of dollars on expenditures such as hotels, meals and rental cars in early-voting states.

A separate effort is also underway to help Atlanta land the 2024 Democratic National Convention.

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INSULIN PROGRESS. U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock’s proposal to cap the cost of insulin at $35 per month for patients got a boost this week when it was included in a broader bipartisan package from Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Susan Collins.

“Congress needs to pass our legislation now to help struggling families in Georgia & across our nation save money on this life-saving drug,” Warnock wrote in a Tweet.

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HQ GA? The competition for which city will become headquarters for a newly created federal agency is in its infancy, but Georgia’s congressional delegation is already making a case for the Peach State.

In a rare show of unanimous support, all 16 members of the delegation signed a letter explaining to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra why they believe Georgia is where the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health should be located.

The letter does not suggest any particular city in Georgia, but the bipartisan group of lawmakers does outline Georgia’s strong points as a potential agency headquarters. Among them: Existing health care system partnerships with medical schools in Atlanta, Augusta and Macon; a strong network of historically Black colleges and universities; Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport; and the Atlanta-based U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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GOODBYE, BUSINESS COURT. The first judge of Georgia’s statewide business court said Wednesday he plans to step down from his post soon.

Walt Davis said in his resignation letter that after “financially challenging, and at times exhausting” work, he’s decided to return to the private sector.

“What that will be I do not yet know,” he wrote in his resignation letter to Gov. Brian Kemp.

“For now, I remain committed to serving as the judge of the statewide business court, and when that time comes, I will ensure a smooth transition to the court’s new leadership.”

Georgia voters approved the business court in a constitutional amendment in 2018. Kemp tapped Davis in 2019 to be the founding judge of the new system, which was designed to focus on complex business litigation that would otherwise land in county courts.

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TODAY IN WASHINGTON:

  • The U.S. House’s January 6 Committee hearing begins at 3 p.m.
  • The Senate will take a procedural vote to advance a package of gun safety and background check measures.
  • President Joe Biden this morning will welcome veterans wounded in service, their caregivers and families to the White House as part of the annual Soldier Ride.

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FREE COMEDY. We’ve said a million times that Georgia politics is the greatest show on Earth.

Apparently Treavor Noah and the Daily Show agree and will helm their midterm shows from Atlanta later this year. They’ll record full shows at the Tabernacle from October 31st through November 3rd and be on the ground at various events.

Get ready for your closeups, people!

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AS ALWAYS, Jolt readers are some of our favorite tipsters. Send your best scoop, gossip and insider info to patricia.murphy@ajc.com, tia.mitchell@ajc.com and greg.bluestein@ajc.com.

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