A judge in Fulton County, Georgia on Tuesday rejected Rudy Giuliani’s attempt to skirt in-person testimony before a special grand jury, ordering him to travel by any other means to Atlanta.
Giuliani had previously argued that a recent medical procedure bars him from flying.
Giuliani has told prosecutors that he is unable to testify in person for an investigation into election interference in the battleground state due to the implantation of two coronary heart stents last month.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney swiftly rejected Giuliani’s argument on Tuesday and tentatively ordered him to appear for in-person testimony on Aug. 17.
“Mr. Giuliani is not cleared for air travel, A-I-R,” McBurney said during a hearing on Tuesday afternoon, according to the New York Times. “John Madden drove all over the country in his big bus, from stadium to stadium.”
McBurney reportedly floated other ideas besides air travel that Giuliani could use to appear for testimony “without jeopardizing his recovery and his health.”
“On a train, on a bus or Uber, or whatever it would be,” McBurney said, the Times reported, adding, “New York is not close to Atlanta, but it’s not traveling from Fairbanks.”
The judge reportedly also instructed prosecutors to inform Giuliani about whether he is considered a target of the criminal investigation led by Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis. At least 17 other people, including two state senators and the head of the state GOP, have been informed that they are targets in the probe, according to the Times.
The judge said letting Giuliani know in advance if he’s a target or not would inform him about “what impact that has on the extent of his time in front of the grand jury,” the Times reported, noting that if he is considered a target, Giuliani could potentially invoke his Fifth Amendment right and refuse to deliver testimony.
Additionally, the judge said he’d reconsider Aug. 17 for Giuliani’s testimony if his doctor produced a compelling medical excuse.
During the hearing, Giuliani’s lawyer William H. Thomas Jr. said his client would be willing to do a virtual interview on Zoom. Nathan Wade, a special prosecutor working for the district attorney, said the office does not favor the suggestion and would prefer that Guliani appear in person.
Tuesday’s hearing comes a day after prosecutors with the Fulton County district attorney’s office pushed back on Giuliani’s effort to get out of his testimony. Prosecutors pointed out that Giuliani paid for recent international travel “with cash,” purportedly for travel to Rome and Zurich during the week of July 22 to July 29.
In an email to Giuliani attorney Robert Costello on Monday, Deputy District Attorney Will Wooten said the office will “provide alternate transportation including bus or train if your client maintains that he is unable to fly.”
In the email, prosecutors attached a tweet that Giuliani sent on Aug. 1, saying that he was “having fun” in the 603 — a New Hampshire area code. Prosecutors said that both the alleged cash-paid travel and the tweet occurred after Giuliani’s medical procedure.
The Fulton County grand jury is investigating former President Trump’s attempts to subvert the election results in Georgia, focusing on efforts by Trump and others in his inner circle to pressure state election officials as part of their broader attempts to overturn the 2020 election results.
The grand jury is also probing a scheme to create fake slate of electors in the state who would then falsely declare that Trump won. Giuliani, a key figure in Trump’s election steal scheme, participated in the fake elector plot in several battleground states.