ATLANTA (CN) — A Georgia judge on Tuesday ordered Donald Trump’s former personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to travel to Atlanta next week to testify in person before a special grand jury investigating efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
In a last-minute effort to postpone his testimony in Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ investigation, Giuliani said on Monday that he was unable to travel to Georgia from New York due to a medical procedure he had last month.
During an emergency hearing Tuesday afternoon on why the former New York City mayor was unable to appear before the grand jury in Atlanta, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney ordered Giuliani to testify in person on Aug. 17, unless a doctor can provide medical documentation explaining in detail why that is not possible.
Last month, a New York state judge ruled Giuliani must attend the special grand jury interview on Tuesday after he failed to appear at a hearing to challenge the subpoena.
“It seems to me like communications haven’t flowed real smoothly between the district attorney’s office and Mr. Giuliani’s two lawyers,” McBurney said Tuesday.
Bill Thomas, an attorney for Giuliani who became involved in the case just last week, said his client is willing to appear virtually by Zoom, insisting that he is not attempting to dodge testifying.
“We just want a reasonable accommodation so a 78-year-old who has health conditions can get here, satisfy the directives from a New York court and this court,” Thomas told McBurney.
But Willis’ office said it was uninterested in a virtual appearance or waiting until Giuliani is approved to travel by plane, and the judge ultimately denied this request.
“To date, I don’t think there has been a virtual appearance. That doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be one or couldn’t be one, but it’s somewhat extraordinary as everyone else has figured out a way to get here,” McBurney said.
According to prosecutor Nathan Wade, the district attorney’s office was originally told by Giuliani’s New York attorney that he is unable to travel at all.
However, after Giuliani tweeted a photo of himself with a woman in New Hampshire the following day, his legal counsel then argued he was only prohibited from air travel by his doctor.
McBurney recommended Giuliani use alternate methods of transportation to get to Atlanta and said he has plenty of time to arrange for the 13-hour trip.
“I’m confident that he could figure out a way short of Greyhound that would get him to Atlanta that's not an airplane. And certainly, the district attorney’s office would be involved in defraying some of the expenses,” the judge said. “If it’s a gold-plated limo, it may be that there's a cap that the state can afford but of course Mr. Giuliani would be coming down here on the state’s behalf. It's a court order but there needs to be discussions about that.”
Willis’ office also declared that it discovered evidence that Giuliani had purchased plane tickets to Italy and Switzerland for dates after his procedure. Thomas said that these tickets were purchased before his procedure, and that plans for these trips to events and conferences were canceled.
Thomas told the judge that Giuliani’s counsel has made several injuries to the district attorney’s office on whether he is a target of the investigation, and that the response to that question will dictate how they proceed with their client’s testimony.
“I'm not going to require the state to respond in this setting, but I would implore, not an order, that the state at least address that with counsel for Mr. Giuliani before he gets here,” McBurney said.
Giuliani was subpoenaed in early July by Willis, along with multiple other Trump allies who appeared before Georgia legislators in December 2020 as part of an effort to prove election fraud in multiple Peach State counties during the election.
Together they presented edited surveillance videos of election workers, purported to show them producing suitcases of unlawful ballots.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who has already testified before the special grand jury, said his office's investigation into the incident revealed no evidence of voter fraud.
Giuliani has since been suspended from practicing law in New York.
Attorneys for U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, are scheduled to challenge his subpoena in an Atlanta federal court Wednesday, alleging that he is protected by legislative immunity.
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