The 23-person special grand jury has heard testimony in recent weeks from a parade of witnesses, including some who had direct contact with Trump and his associates in late 2020 and early 2021. But Tuesday’s subpoenas are the closest jurors have gotten to the Trump campaign or inner circle of the former president.
Giuliani testified before Georgia legislators in late 2020, showing edited surveillance video of ballots being tabulated at Atlanta’s State Farm Arena. The former New York City mayor said the tape was a “powerful smoking gun” of election workers pulling out “suitcases” of ballots to count after sending Republican poll watchers home.
Giuliani’s claims were quickly debunked by the Secretary of State’s office, but he continued to screen the video and doubled down on his comments in the weeks after. He was later suspended from practicing law in New York, in part because of his testimony in Georgia.
Eastman, a former law professor, was a key architect of the plan to press Vice President Mike Pence to reject the official Democratic electors in Georgia and other swing states and opt for an alternative slate of GOP electors. A federal judge in March argued that “it is more likely than not that President Trump and Dr. Eastman dishonestly conspired to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021.”
Eastman testified at the same Georgia hearing as Giuliani, during which he argued that there was “more than enough” evidence of fraud and improper conduct to warrant Georgia lawmakers picking an alternative slate of presidential electors.
“I don’t think it’s just your authority to do that,” Eastman said, “but, quite frankly, I think you have a duty to do that to protect the integrity of the election here in Georgia.”
Deason and Ellis also spoke at the same hearing.
Cheseboro worked with the leadership of the Georgia GOP to coordinate a slate of alternate Republican electors, according to his subpoena. The DA’s office said Cheseboro drafted at least two memos in support of the plan and provided a template of documents to the party for its sham ceremony at the Georgia Capitol on Dec. 14, 2020.
Mitchell, a conservative lawyer based in Washington, D.C., advised Trump on the infamous Jan. 2, 2021, call that the Republican placed to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. During that conversation, in which Trump asked Raffensperger to “find” 11,780 votes, Mitchell aided Trump as he made unsubstantiated claims about Georgia’s elections.
Graham separately called Raffensperger and his staff twice in the weeks following the November 2020 elections “about reexamining certain absentee ballots cast in Georgia in order to explore the possibility of a more favorable outcome for former President Donald Trump,” his subpoena alleges. Graham previously denied wrongdoing.
It may be difficult for Fulton prosecutors to secure testimony from Giuliani, Eastman, Mitchell, Chesebro, Deason and Ellis, since they could argue attorney-client privilege. Eastman claimed the exemption as he sought to block the handover of evidence to the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, though he was largely shot down by a federal judge.
Bob Costello, Giuliani’s attorney, declined to comment and said his client had not been served any subpoena. A spokesman for Graham did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Fulton County DA Fani Willis launched the criminal probe into Georgia’s elections in February 2021, weeks after a recording of the Trump-Raffensperger phone call leaked. She’s since expanded the investigation to include the fake GOP electors, Giuliani’s testimony to state legislators and other efforts to pressure Georgia officials to act in Trump’s favor.
The special grand jury has permission to meet until May 2023, though Willis said she’s expecting the group’s work to wrap up long before then. Jurors are expected to draft a report at the end of their service recommending whether Willis should press charges against Trump or his allies, though the final decision ultimately rests with the DA, a Democrat elected in 2020.
Raffensperger, several of his deputies and Attorney General Chris Carr have already testified before the grand jury. Gov. Brian Kemp, who rebuffed pressure from Trump to call a special session of the state legislature to reverse the election results, is slated to give a video statement later this month.
Willis is currently fighting with at least two current and former Republican officials in Georgia over subpoenas. Attorneys for Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and ex-Sen. William Ligon argued last week that the state Constitution shields them from testifying about anything related to their legislative activities.
The District Attorney’s office countered that activities that seek to reverse certified election results are not protected by so-called legislative immunity.
McBurney, who heard arguments from the DA’s office and the lawmakers on Friday, is currently drafting a framework about the types of questions prosecutors can ask without violating immunity rules.
Trump allies subpoenaed July 5:
Rudy Giuliani: Trump’s personal attorney who testified before Georgia Senate panel in Dec. 2020.
John Eastman: Attorney and architect of “alternative” elector scheme.
Cleta Mitchell: Attorney who sat in on Trump’s Jan. 2021 phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
Kenneth Chesebro: Attorney who worked with Georgia GOP to coordinate the “alternative” electors in Dec. 2020
Jenna Ellis: Attorney who testified in Georgia Senate about voter fraud.
Jacki Pick Deason: Attorney and podcast host; testified before state Legislature about voter fraud.
Lindsey Graham: U.S. Senator from South Carolina who called Raffensperger and his staff twice about reexamining some of Georgia’s absentee ballots.