Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis is reportedly looking into whether her office can prosecute former President Donald Trump’s longtime friend and attorney Rudy Giuliani over a series of false statements and conspiracy theories he peddled during a session of the Georgia State Legislature late last year.
According to the Daily Beast, citing an anonymous source said to be “familiar with the matter,” Willis is “actively researching” whether Georgia Code §16-10-20 can be applied to Giuliani’s performance before a Georgia Senate Panel in early December 2020.
“You are the final arbiter of who the electors should be and whether the process is fair or not,” Giuliani told a largely Republican group of legislators during a meeting of the Georgia Senate Judiciary Subcommittee. “The other way to look at it is, it’s your responsibility if a false and fraudulent count is submitted to the United States government. And it’s clear the count you have right now is false.”
Specifically, the former mayor of New York City claimed that in total there were “231,188 ballots together with no return record at all” and that 134,000 votes were thrown out “but you kept 96,600 votes where there was no return record for them.”
“What would that suggest?” Giulani asked. “Phantom votes.”
The high-profile and scandal-plagued attorney also presented an edited security camera video which he told legislators was proof that an elections official had removed ballots from underneath a table and then “added in secret.” Giuliani claimed this footage was a “powerful smoking gun.”
That video and the claims made by Giuliani were immediately debunked by numerous Republican Party elections officials in the Peach State—including Georgia Secretary of State Chief Operating Officer Gabriel Sterling.
“Rudy Giuliani looked them in the eye and lied,” Sterling said during a 60 Minutes interview in January.
“From my point of view, they intentionally misled the state senators, the people of Georgia, and the people of the United States about this, to cause this conspiracy theory to keep going and keep the disinformation going, which has caused this environment that we’re seeing today,” he added, referring to the entirety of Trump’s legal team which took part in the presentation aimed at overturning President Joe Biden’s razor-thin victory over Trump in Georgia.
Giuliani’s state of mind is sure to be a key sticking point should Willis decide to move forward with false statement charges.
Under the law in question, it is a crime to “knowingly and willfully” falsify, conceal or otherwise cover up “a material fact” or to make “a false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation” or to make or use “any false writing or document” before “any department or agency of state government or of the government of any county, city, or other political subdivision.”
Typically, such laws are used to prosecute people who give false information to investigators—which makes them akin to the federal prohibition against lying to federal agents.
Violations of the Georgia law result in potential punishments that are more or less analogous to those contained the federal false statements statute. Anyone convicted under §16-10-20 faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $1,000. The minimum penalty for conviction under the law is one year in prison.
Targeting Giuliani would be a significant expansion of an extant investigation by the DA’s office.
As Law&Crime previously reported, Willis is currently looking into whether she can charge Trump using the state’s version of RICO predicates over his infamous efforts to allegedly convince officials, including Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, that the state’s election was marked by widespread fraud.
[image via screengrab/YouTube]
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