Gingrich resists testifying before Ga. grand jury in election probe

cigaretteman

HR King
May 29, 2001
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Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, a Republican who represented Georgia, is scheduled to appear in a Fairfax County courtroom Wednesday morning to fight a demand that he testify before a Georgia special grand jury investigating possible attempts in that state to manipulate the 2020 presidential election.

Gingrich, 79, resigned from the House in 1999 and lives in Northern Virginia. He has remained politically active, including a run for president in 2012, and recently attracted the attention of the House panel investigating the Capitol riot of Jan. 6, 2021. The committee alleged in a September letter that Gingrich urged Donald Trump and his team to spread false information about supposed election fraud in Georgia, and that he was involved in the scheme to have “fake electors” submitted to Congress during the electoral college vote to have Trump declared the winner, though Joe Biden was certified as president.

Jan. 6 committee asks former speaker Newt Gingrich to sit for interview
Gingrich has agreed to testify Nov. 21 before the committee about his actions. But in Fulton County, Ga., District Attorney Fani T. Willis is also investigating “criminal disruptions” related to the election in Georgia, through a special grand jury. After seeing the Jan. 6 committee’s letter to Gingrich, Willis sought Gingrich’s testimony before the Fulton County special grand jury, court records show, and a judge there last month certified the need for the out-of-state witness.



Willis, a Democrat, has also sought the testimony of Trump supporters including Rudy Giuliani, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and members of the former president’s legal team. Giuliani testified for six hours in August, but Graham and others are still contesting Fulton County’s requests. Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, lost an attempt in South Carolina last month to block his testimony in Fulton County, with the judge ruling that Meadows was “material and necessary to the investigation and that the state of Georgia is assuring not to cause undue hardship to him.”
Trump chief of staff Meadows ordered to testify before Ga. grand jury
The process for state courts to summon a witness from another state, first created by states in 1931 as the “Uniform Act,” involves presenting a “certificate of material witness” from the requesting state to the state where the witness lives. Gingrich’s attorneys are asking a Fairfax judge to reject the certificate, saying that the Uniform Act doesn’t cover special grand juries, like the one Willis is using in Fulton County, only regular grand juries.
Gingrich’s lawyer, John A. Burlingame, noted in a filing Monday that Georgia’s special grand juries do not have the power to indict, are not required to administer the criminal oath and are prohibited from issuing subpoenas to targets of investigations or out-of-state witnesses. The Fulton County grand jury may only issue a report and recommendations based on its investigations. Willis will then decide which individuals, if any, to seek charges against.

“The Uniform Act,” Burlingame wrote, “has never been amended to expand its applicability beyond traditional grand juries that have the power to indict. … Because the Uniform Act does not extend to a Georgia special purpose grand jury, this court should decline to compel Speaker Gingrich to travel to Georgia to testify.”






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Instead, Burlingame suggested, Gingrich is willing to supply the grand jury with a transcript of his interview with the Jan. 6 committee. A spokesman for the Fulton County state’s attorney did not return a call seeking comment Tuesday. Burlingame declined to comment on the case Tuesday, and Gingrich did not respond to a message seeking comment.
The Fairfax County commonwealth’s attorney will argue that Gingrich’s testimony is necessary and legally requested, court records show, but had not filed a brief in reply to Gingrich by Tuesday. Fairfax Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano did not respond to a message seeking comment. The case will be heard by Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Robert J. Smith.
The argument that the Uniform Act doesn’t apply to special grand juries was accepted in September by a majority of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which rejected a request for Texas lawyer and podcaster Jacki Pick Deason to appear before the Fulton County special grand jury. States such as Texas and Virginia signed on to the Uniform Act in the 1950s or earlier, and Georgia did not create its special grand jury until 1974. Virginia’s law makes two references to a “grand jury investigation,” but not a special grand jury.



A three-page letter signed by Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), the chair of the House Jan. 6 committee, revealed a number of actions the panel claimed had been taken by Gingrich to assist in overturning the 2020 presidential election. Thompson’s letter said Gingrich provided “detailed input” to Jared Kushner — the president’s son-in-law — and adviser Jason Miller for television ads aired in the days leading up to Dec. 14, 2020, when each state created its slate of electors. The ads encouraged viewers to pressure state officials “to challenge and overturn the results of the election.”
Thompson said that Gingrich urged Trump’s campaign to broadcast commercials “promoting the false narrative that election workers had smuggled suitcases containing fake ballots” into an Atlanta election site. “You provided line edits to the scripts,” Thompson wrote to Gingrich, and “You specifically pushed for national advertisements to include false allegations about what you called the ‘suitcase scandal.’ ”
The letter quoted a Gingrich email that advised Kushner and Miller, “The goal is to arouse the country’s anger through new verifiable information the American people have never seen before.” The claims about the suitcases were repeatedly disproved by independent reviews.



Gingrich’s emails also indicated that he was “involved in the fake elector scheme,” Thompson wrote, in which slates of electors who were not chosen by their state legislatures would also be submitted to Congress. On Nov. 12, 2020, Thompson alleged, Gingrich asked Meadows and White House counsel Pat Cipollone, “Is someone in charge of coordinating all the electors?” Trump would later use the existence of the “fake electors” to encourage Vice President Mike Pence to reject certification of the election results on Jan. 6, Thompson wrote.

 

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