Fulton County prosecutors are considering whether they can pin “false statement” charges against former President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani and other Trump allies for their efforts to interfere and spread lies about Georgia’s 2020 presidential election results, the Daily Beast reported early Wednesday.
The development adds to comments Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis made in a letter to state officials last month, saying her investigation included potential violations of Georgia laws prohibiting “the making of false statements to state and local governmental bodies,” among other crimes.
The Daily Beast didn’t detail who else in Trump’s circle may be a potential target of the investigation.
Giuliani’s efforts to present Georgia state legislators with baseless conspiracies about election fraud date back to December, when he put forward selectively edited footage from a video circulating at the time of a ballot processing center at Atlanta’s State Farm Arena. Giuliani subsequently appeared on Fox News to perpetuate the footage, calling it a “bombshell” during a Dec. 3 interview with host Sean Hannity.
Trump also advanced those false claims during two recorded phone calls to state election officials about the presidential election being stolen from him.
“The President’s team is intentionally misleading the public about what happened at State Farm Arena on election night,” Georgia elections official Gabriel Sterling said in early December.
Giuliani repeated the election falsehoods on Dec. 10, before the state’s House Governmental Affairs Committee.
In his call with Trump on Jan. 2, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger also asserted that the video did not show fraud after walking through it frame-by-frame and confirming that it reflected the normal ballot-counting process.
By highlighting the false statements, prosecutors could argue that Trump and his lieutenants conspired in a “criminal enterprise” to undermine a legitimate election, legal experts told the Daily Beast.
Several former Georgia district attorneys told the paper that investigators are likely relying on a state law that makes it a felony to “knowingly and willfully” make a false statement on “any matter within the jurisdiction” of the state government.
This effort by a Georgia prosecutor is one of a series of investigations into the former president or his inner circle. Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance and New York Attorney General Letitia James are also probing Trump and his family business.
Shortly after the Georgia investigation launched, his senior adviser Jason Miller alleged that “this is simply the Democrats’ latest attempt to score political points by continuing their witch hunt against President Trump, and everybody sees through it.”
Willis’ team is also scrutinizing Trump’s phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in January pressuring the state official to “find” him enough votes to deliver him a win, in addition to calls to Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and contact with Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr (R). The Fulton County DA has also taken an interest in the sudden departure of U.S. Attorney Byung “BJay” Pak, who resigned from his post shortly after Trump’s call with Raffensperger.