Rudy Giuliani among Trump allies subpoenaed by January 6 panel | National policy


WASHINGTON (AP) — The House committee investigating the U.S. Capitol insurrection on Tuesday issued subpoenas to Rudy Giuliani and other members of Donald Trump’s legal team who filed false legal challenges to the 2020 election that fueled the lie that the breed was stolen from the former president.

The committee continues to expand its reach into Trump’s orbit, this time demanding information and testimony from Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, Sidney Powell and Boris Epshteyn. All four publicly pushed Trump’s baseless voter fraud allegations in the months after the election.

“The four people we subpoenaed today advanced unsubstantiated theories of voter fraud, pushed efforts to overturn election results or were in direct contact with the former president about attempts to arrest the electoral vote tally,” Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, the panel’s Democratic chairman, said in a statement.

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Epshteyn in a tweet called the committee illegitimate and its efforts part of a “witch hunt” against Trump and his supporters. The others who were subpoenaed did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Trump’s legal team has sought to overturn election results in battleground states by filing lawsuits alleging widespread irregularities with ballots and claims of poll watchers who said they couldn’t see everything, in part due to precautions in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 50 lawsuits have been filed, mostly in battleground states.

Lawsuits have been vigorously fought in court, sometimes within days of filing. But legal challenges and multiple press conferences held by Giuliani and others have helped galvanize Trump supporters behind the idea that the election was stolen, even though Trump’s own attorney general has said he there was no evidence of widespread fraud, and local officials said it had been the safest election in history.

The committee said it was seeking deposition records and testimony from Giuliani, the 76-year-old former New York City mayor once celebrated for his post-9/11 leadership, for his promotion of election fraud allegations in the Trump’s name. The panel is also seeking information on Giuliani’s reported efforts to persuade state lawmakers to take action to overturn the election results.

Four days after the elections of November 3, 2020, as the Associated Press and other media called him out for Joe Biden, Giuliani held a press conference at a landscaping company in Philadelphia to announce that his team planned to contest the election results. It was the start of a pressure campaign to allocate electoral votes in battleground states where Biden won Trump instead.

Ellis and Powell have also appeared with Giuliani at press conferences pushing bogus claims of voter fraud, and Giuliani has met with local elected officials to push bogus theories about corrupt voting systems. Powell was eventually dropped from the team after saying in an interview that she was going to release “the kraken” from prosecution.

Giuliani even appeared in a Pennsylvania courtroom for the first time in nearly three decades to plead an electoral cause. During the hearing, he fiddled with his Twitter account, forgot which judge he was talking to and made false accusations about a nationwide plot by Democrats to steal the election.

The trial had been Trump’s best-case scenario t o void the election using the courts – not because of the facts of the case but because of the number of electoral votes at stake, 20.

“One would expect that in seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come tremendously armed with compelling legal arguments and factual evidence of endemic corruption,” Judge Matthew Brann wrote at the time. “This does not happen.”

Giuliani has been a reliable cheerleader for Trump for much of his presidency, serving on his legal team during Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and defending him in repeated appearances in the TV News. But he also found himself personally entangled in Trump’s own political and legal woes.

He was a central figure in the first impeachment case against Trump, which focused on the former president’s efforts to get Ukraine to dig up the dirt on Democratic challenger Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Last year, federal investigators raided Giuliani’s New York home as part of an investigation into his own work in Ukraine.

And Giuliani spoke at the rally outside the White House that preceded the Jan. 6 insurrection. Like Trump, he suggested certifying Biden’s victory was an existential crisis for the country and used rhetoric hinting at violence.

“Let’s do trial by combat,” Giuliani said. “I’m willing to stake my reputation, the president is willing to stake his reputation, on the fact that we’re going to find crime there.”

His speech came after dozens of justices — including the U.S. Supreme Court, along with three Trump nominees — dismissed all significant allegations of alleged voter fraud filed by Giuliani and other attorneys. More than a year later, there is still no evidence of criminality. Even a widely criticized review commissioned by Republicans in Arizona, one of the states Biden returned to Democrats in 2020, failed to produce evidence to support Trump’s false claims.

The nine-member panel is also seeking information from Ellis, a legal adviser who lawmakers say prepared and circulated two memos analyzing then-Vice President Mike Pence’s constitutional authority to dismiss or delay counting the electoral votes of the states that had submitted alternative electoral lists. Pence said he had no such authority.

Besides Giuliani, Powell was the most public face of Trump’s attempts to contest the election, making regular appearances on behalf of the president.

In numerous post-election interviews and appearances, Powell continued to make misleading claims about the voting process, deployed complex and unsubstantiated conspiracy theories involving communist regimes, and vowed to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court record.

Powell and another pro-Trump attorney — Lin Wood, not yet named by the committee — were eventually ordered to pay $175,000 in court after filing frivolous election lawsuits in Michigan.

The latest person subpoenaed by the committee on Tuesday is Epshteyn, a former Trump campaign strategic adviser who reportedly attended meetings at the Willard Hotel in the days before the insurgency. The committee said Epshteyn had a call with Trump the morning of Jan. 6, 2021, to discuss options for delaying certification of election results if Pence refuses to deny or delay the process.

Associated Press writer Eric Tucker and Nomaan Merchant contributed to this report.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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