Rudy Giuliani has been told he’s a target of the Georgia criminal investigation into election interference in the state’s 2020 election, Giuliani’s lawyer told VICE News on Monday.
The designation as a target means the longtime personal attorney to former President Donald Trump could catch a criminal charge in Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ investigation into the Trump team’s efforts to flip the last presidential election from a defeat into a victory.
The development is an ominous omen for the mercurial Trump ally. Giuliani’s appearances before the Georgia state legislature have assumed a central role in Willis’ investigation.
During a hearing last week, Giuliani’s legal team requested that it be informed whether prosecutors view the former New York mayor as a witness or a target of the investigation. Being a target could prompt him to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination—a move pulled by Trump himself during a deposition with the New York Attorney General in a separate probe of Trump’s business practices last week.
Giuliani’s attorney, Robert Costello, said Giuliani’s legal team was informed of their client’s designation as a target in a phone call on Monday from Nathan Wade, a special prosecutor working for Willis’ office.
“If these people think he’s going to talk about conversations between him and President Trump, they’re delusional,” Costello said.
“‘Target’ is a term prosecutors use to indicate that they are likely to indict someone. It has a specific meaning in this context,” tweeted former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti. “If Giuliani has in fact been told that he is a target of the Georgia investigation, he should expect to be indicted.”
Willis has said she is considering possible racketeering charges under Georgia state law as part of her investigation. The Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or Georgia RICO, is the junior cousin of the federal RICO statute, which was created in 1970 to bring down the mafia.
Both laws prohibit anyone from using an organization to commit a series of crimes. In this case, the organization in question could be the Trump campaign, and the series of crimes could be as simple as a trail of lies told to Georgia officials about baseless fraud allegations, lawyers following the investigation previously told VICE News.
Giuliani isn’t the only Trump ally who got bad news on Monday.
Earlier in the day, a federal judge ordered another key figure in the probe, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, to testify before the special grand jury that’s investigating election interference. The judge rejected Graham’s arguments that the senator’s phone calls to state election officials shortly after the Nov. 3, 2020 election were strictly part of his legislative duties as a member of Congress.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has said that during those phone calls, Graham appeared to be suggesting that Raffensperger find a way to toss out some ballots. Graham has denied that claim, and said that he was trying to learn how Georgia’s election rules work.