The Fulton County, Georgia, district attorney's investigation into Donald Trump's efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss in the state is arguably the clearest legal threat to the former president — at least for now.
And two Trump loyalists are acting accordingly, using dubious excuses and outright disregard for Georgia courts as means to avoid testifying. They're running from Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis faster than Sen. Josh Hawley during a Capitol riot.
Which two, you might ask? None other than former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
Trump loyalists are using every excuse possible to avoid potentially incriminating their dear leader.
Their cowardice is dishonorable, but pretty understandable on its face. Willis’ inquiry seems to have Trump in a vise. There’s audio of him pressuring Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find’’ (see: fabricate) enough votes post-election to falsely declare Trump the winner in Georgia. And there’s public record of Trump targeting and inciting fury toward Georgia election workers over baseless claims of voter fraud.
Graham infamously called Raffenperger, as well, for a post-election exchange Raffensperger said was designed to get him to toss out legal votes. Now Graham is fighting a subpoena requiring his testimony.
Graham’s convenient and implausible excuse for his call with Raffensperger is that he merely wanted to discuss whether certain ballots had been properly verified. You know, just a standard, post-election call from a senator pushing baseless conspiracy theories about election malfeasance. The call explains why Graham's testimony is vital to Willis' investigation. In fact, a judge ruled last month that he must comply with the subpoena, despite Graham’s refusal on grounds the investigation is “politically motivated.”
As former U.S. attorney Carol Lam wrote for NBC Think in July, those claims are flimsy and unlikely to withstand a court challenge.
But it’s clear Graham has no desire to set foot in a Georgia courtroom: He skipped a scheduled court appearance on Wednesday that centered on whether the subpoena should be thrown out.
And then there's Giuliani, who played a key role in spreading lies about Georgia's election. He held an hourslong, conspiratorial meeting in December 2020 with members of the Georgia state Senate, where he presented tinfoil hat theories claiming election workers committed fraud to help Joe Biden win. The claims were easily debunked, but Giuliani continued spewing them in the weeks leading up to the Jan. 6 attack.
And what do you know? He’s also been trying to avoid testifying, despite a court order. His lawyers recently filed a motion arguing he shouldn’t be forced to respond to the subpoena because a medical procedure prevented him from traveling by plane.
Prosecutors, however, filed a legal briefing saying they had evidence Giuliani purchased airline tickets to Rome and Zurich after undergoing the procedure. A judge ruled Tuesday that Giuliani must testify in court next week, saying he can get there by “train or a bus or Uber” if he can't fly.
Trump loyalists are using every excuse possible to avoid potentially incriminating their dear leader. But Fulton County's district attorney isn’t letting them wiggle away easily.