Jul 21, 2023

Rudy Giuliani Eyed by Arizona Prosecutors Probing Fake

Prosecutors in Arizona are “aggressively” ramping up their criminal probe into the 2020 fake electors plot aimed at keeping then-President Donald Trump in power. They’re not just looking at the fake electors, though. Rudy Giuliani is also now high on their list.

Two sources with knowledge of the matter tell Rolling Stone that in the past several weeks, state prosecutors have been asking questions about the former New York mayor who became a ringleader in Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Investigators assigned to the case by Arizona’s Democratic attorney general Kris Mayes have recently asked potential witnesses and other individuals specific questions not only about Giuliani’s behind-the-scenes conduct, but that of other key Trump lieutenants at the time, as well.

Prosecutors appear particularly interested in a number of notable meetings and phone calls, including a late November 2020 meeting with members of Arizona’s state legislature convened by the Trump legal team, which aired bogus claims of voter fraud and lobbied lawmakers to “take over” the state’s selection of electors, the sources say.

State investigators have also at times inquired about Trump’s level of personal involvement in the Arizona-focused pressure campaign, one of the people with knowledge of the situation says. The campaign was part of a multi-state fake elector scheme, which along with other aspects of Trump’s crusade to overturn Joe Biden’s legitimate 2020 victory has figured prominently into multiple federal and state-level criminal probes.

Giuliani’s attorney and a Trump spokesperson did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment on this story. The Arizona attorney general’s office declined to comment.

Arizona law enforcement officials have also been looking into the activities of former Arizona GOP chair Kelli Ward and her role as a fake elector. As Rolling Stone reported last week, prosecutors have asked possible witnesses about a December 2020 signing ceremony where Ward and 10 other Republicans signed documents falsely attesting to be Arizona’s legitimate electors.

Arizona’s attorney general has publicly referred to the case as an investigation into “fake electors,” but the questions about Giuliani suggest that investigators may be interested in probing pro-Trump figures who were higher up on the food chain in addition to the 11 Republicans who falsely claimed to be the state’s legitimate electors.

In public comments following the Fulton County, Georgia, indictment of Trump and his associates earlier this month, Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes called for patience, saying “we are doing a thorough and professional investigation and we’re going to do it on our timetable as justice demands.”

At this early stage in the investigation, it remains unclear whether prosecutors will decide to file any charges. It’s even less clear whether the state attorney general’s office intends to mount as aggressive and far-reaching an investigation as Fulton County’s Fani Willis, who indicted Trump alongside 18 other defendants — including Giuliani — on election-related conspiracy charges. (It was former President Trump’s historic fourth indictment of the year.)

Giuliani convened the meeting of 15 state legislators at the Hyatt Regency in Phoenix in late November 2020, casting it as a “hearing” of the state’s legislature despite its unofficial status. The meeting appeared to be part of the Trump campaign’s pressure campaign to prevent the state from certifying Biden’s win. Arizona’s Republican Gov. Doug Ducey certified the state’s legitimate electors the same day.

President Trump called into the meeting and blasted Ducey, who he said “couldn’t [certify the electoral count] fast enough,” warning that “Arizona will not forget what Ducey just did.” Giuliani meanwhile urged the assembled lawmakers to “take over the conduct of this election because it’s being conducted irresponsibly and unfairly,” according to the House January 6 Committee’s final report.

Giuliani had initially pressed Rusty Bowers, then Arizona’s Republican House speaker, during a phone call with Trump to hold an official legislative hearing. But Bowers refused, testifying later that he feared an official hearing would create a “circus” atmosphere and make him a “pawn.”

Last week, Bowers declined to answer questions about the Arizona investigation and related events, simply telling Rolling Stone: “I am under counsel to not discuss anything at this time, so I must [decline to comment].”

Bowers told the January 6 Committee that Giuliani met with both him and other Arizona legislators after the Phoenix conference, where they “aggressively questioned” the two over their claims of thousands of dead and undocumented voters. Giuliani allegedly asked Bowers and other state legislators to help in recalling the state’s electors for Biden, which the state had certified that same day. Bowers refused.

“We’ve got lots of theories, we just don’t have the evidence,” Giuliani said, according to Bowers.