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A probe into election interference in Georgia focuses on Rudy Giuliani

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The FBI search of Donald Trump's home is just one of several criminal proceedings involving the former president.

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

The court-authorized search recovered boxes of documents marked classified or top secret. The warrant included possible violations of laws, including the Espionage Act. A different investigation examines one of Trump's many efforts to overturn the 2020 election. A Georgia grand jury is studying his pressure on state officials to, quote, "find extra votes" so he could win by exactly one vote. Now a lawyer for Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani says he is a target of that investigation.

INSKEEP: Stephen Fowler of Georgia Public Broadcasting joins us once again. Stephen, good morning.

STEPHEN FOWLER, BYLINE: Good morning.

INSKEEP: Why would Giuliani be a target of the Georgia investigation?

FOWLER: Well, it's important to remind people that Rudy Giuliani's right there in the middle of Trump's efforts to undo his loss and why the DA's office here notified him he's moved from a witness to a target of their investigation. He's been one of the biggest megaphones for Trump's false claims of voter fraud post-2020 and is being sued by voting machine vendors and poll workers alike for some of those claims. That's where Georgia comes in. After the presidential election, he appeared in front of state lawmakers and made a number of far-fetched claims that officials debunked, including that two Black election workers were manipulating election results, like he said here in 2020.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

RUDY GIULIANI: Quite obviously, surreptitiously passing around USB ports as if they're vials of heroin or cocaine. I mean, it's obvious to anyone who's a criminal investigator or prosecutor they are engaged in surreptitious, illegal activity, again, that day.

FOWLER: That, of course, is not what happened, Steve. The women testified to Congress that they had passed a ginger mint. And these women faced death threats because of those false claims.

INSKEEP: There's news of another Trump supporter here, Stephen - Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. We know that Trump made phone calls to overturn the election. And Graham also phoned the secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger. What do investigators want to know from him?

FOWLER: Well, so Graham is a witness and not a target. That's an important distinction. Raffensperger said his impression of those calls was that Graham wanted him to reject absentee ballots that had already been counted. Graham disagrees with that characterization and also said he should not have to testify about the call under several privileges that come with being a U.S. senator. A federal judge disagreed. Monday, a ruling came down that said Graham's call to the secretary of state fell outside certain constitutional protections and that the grand jury seemed to have questions about things other than calls with elections officials, so he should answer them.

INSKEEP: Well, Trump is the one who was recorded calling Raffensperger and saying he wanted to find 11,780 votes so that he could win the state by one vote. Do prosecutors want Trump to testify?

FOWLER: It's unclear if and when Donald Trump will face a subpoena, but he did just hire a well-known local criminal defense attorney in Georgia to help handle what might be coming. This lawyer, Drew Findling, is most known for representing famous rappers and other high-profile clients. But this obviously might be the biggest case yet. Besides that, there's still plenty of other witnesses to come. Rudy Giuliani's still slated to appear tomorrow in Atlanta. Lindsey Graham is appealing the decision ordering him to testify. And several other figures inside and outside Trump's orbit have been subpoenaed to answer questions in this far-reaching probe.

INSKEEP: OK. Stephen, thanks so much for the update - really appreciate it.

FOWLER: Thank you.

INSKEEP: Stephen Fowler of Georgia Public Broadcasting. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Stephen Fowler is the Producer/Back-Up Host for All Things Considered and a creative storyteller hailing from McDonough, Georgia. He graduated from Emory University with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. The program combined the best parts of journalism, marketing, digital media and music into a thesis on the rise of the internet rapper via the intersectionality of social media and hip-hop. He served as the first-ever Executive Digital Editor of The Emory Wheel, where he helped lead the paper into a modern digital era.