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Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., are among seven people petitioned by a Georgia prosecutor Tuesday as part of a state criminal probe into former President Donald Trump for mounting allegations that Democrat Joe Biden did not legitimately win the 2020 election.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis filed petitions with the judge overseeing the special grand jury as part of her investigation into what she alleges was “a multi-state, coordinated plan by the Trump Campaign to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere.”
Willis, who took this unusual step of requesting a special grand jury earlier this year, has confirmed that she and her team are looking into a January 2021 phone call in which Trump pushed Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” the votes needed for him to win the state.
She has said the team is also looking at a November 2020 phone call between Graham and Raffensperger, the abrupt resignation of the U.S. attorney in Atlanta on Jan. 4, 2021, and comments made during December 2020 Georgia legislative committee hearings on the election. Raffensperger and other state officials have already testified before the special grand jury.
In the petition submitted to the judge, Willis wrote that Graham made at least two telephone calls to Raffensperger and members of his staff in the weeks after the November 2020 election. During those calls, Graham asked about reexamining certain absentee ballots “to explore the possibility of a more favorable outcome for former President Donald Trump,” she wrote.
Lawyers for Graham told Fox News Digital that the petition is purely political.
“In my conversations with Fulton County investigators, I have been informed Senator Graham is neither a subject nor target of the investigation, simply a witness. This is all politics,” attorneys Bart Daniel and Matt Austin said in a statement on behalf of Graham.
“Fulton County is engaged in a fishing expedition and working in concert with the January 6 Committee in Washington. Any information from an interview or deposition with Senator Graham would immediately be shared with the January 6 Committee,” the statement said. “As Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Graham was well within his rights to discuss with state officials the processes and procedures around administering elections. Should it stand, the subpoena issued today would erode the constitutional balance of power and the ability of a Member of Congress to do their job. Senator Graham plans to go to court, challenge the subpoena, and expects to prevail.”
In the petition for Giuliani’s testimony, Willis identifies him as both a personal attorney for Trump and “a lead attorney for the Trump Campaign’s legal efforts seeking to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere.”
As part of those efforts, she wrote, he and others presented a Georgia state Senate subcommittee with a video recording of election workers that Giuliani alleged showed them producing “suitcases” of unlawful ballots from unknown sources outside the view of election poll watchers.
Within 24 hours of the hearing on Dec. 3, 2020, Raffensperger’s office denied the video had any legitimacy and said that it had found that no voter fraud had taken place at the arena. Nevertheless, Giuliani continued to make statements to the public and in subsequent legislative hearings claiming widespread voter fraud using that debunked video, Willis wrote.
“There is evidence that [Giuliani’s] appearance and testimony at the hearing was part of a multi-state, coordinated plan by the Trump Campaign to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere,” the petition says.
Giuliani’s attorney, Bob Costello, told The Associated Press that he had no comment and that his client had not been served with any subpoena.
Willis also filed petitions Tuesday for five other potential witnesses: lawyers Kenneth Chesebro, Cleta Mitchell, Jenna Ellis, John Eastman and Jacki Pick Deason.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney signed off on the requests, which are similar to subpoenas, deeming them necessary to the investigation.
Tuesday’s filings mark a major escalation in a case as the former president as he weighs another White House run. The special grand jury has been investigating whether Trump and others illegally tried to meddle in the 2020 presidential election in Georgia after Democrat Joe Biden was declared the winner.
The investigation is separate from that being conducted by a congressional committee that has been examining the events surrounding the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, as Congress was certifying Biden’s victory, as well as the Department of Justice’s own sprawling probe.
Trump is also facing other legal challenges, including in New York, where he, his son Donald Trump Jr. and his daughter Ivanka Trump have agreed to answer questions under oath beginning next week in the New York attorney general’s civil investigation into his business practices.
Special grand juries are impaneled in Georgia to investigate complex cases with large numbers of witnesses and potential logistical concerns. They can compel evidence and subpoena witnesses for questioning and, unlike regular grand juries, can also subpoena the target of an investigation to appear before it.
When its investigation is complete, the special grand jury issues a final report and can recommend action. It’s then up to the district attorney to decide whether to ask a regular grand jury for an indictment.
It’s not clear exactly what charges Willis could ultimately choose to pursue against Trump or anyone else. In a letter she sent to top-ranking state officials last year, she said she was looking into “potential violations of Georgia law prohibiting the solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local government bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election’s administration.”
Trump has denied any wrongdoing.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.