Flynn, Gingrich’s testimony sought in Georgia election investigations

ATLANTA (AP) — The Georgia prosecutor investigating whether then-President Donald Trump and others illegally attempted to meddle in the 2020 election filed filings on Friday to investigate a new group of Trump allies, including the former Testifying Speaker of the US House of Representatives Newt Gingrich and former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis filed petitions in court to have Gingrich and Flynn, as well as former White House Counsel Eric Herschmann and others, testify the next month before a special grand jury set up to try their to support investigations.

They join a number of other high-profile Trump allies and advisers who have been called to testify in the probe. Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and Trump attorney who was told he could face criminal charges in the investigation, testified in August. Attorneys John Eastman and Kenneth Chesebro also appeared before the panel. US Senator Lindsey Graham’s attempt to resist his subpoena is pending in a federal appeals court. And papers were filed to obtain testimony from others, including former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

Flynn did not immediately respond to email and phone messages requesting comment, nor did his attorney immediately respond to an email requesting comment. Gingrich referred questions to his attorney, who declined to comment. Herschmann could not be reached immediately.

Willis has said she plans to take a month-long hiatus from public activity on the case ahead of the November midterm elections, which take place a month after Saturday.

Each of the petitions filed on Friday aims for the potential witnesses to appear in November after the election. But the process of gathering testimonies from overseas witnesses sometimes takes a while, so Willis appears to be getting the wheels rolling for activities to resume after their self-imposed hiatus.

In order to make convincing testimony from witnesses who don’t live in Georgia, Willis must use a process that requires judges in the states where they live to order their appearance. The petitions she filed Friday are essentially precursors to subpoenas.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, who oversees the Special Grand Jury, signed the petitions and confirmed that any person whose testimony is solicited is a “necessary and essential” witness to the investigation.

The petition for Gingrich’s testimony is based on “publicly available information” from the US House of Representatives committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol.

It said he, along with others associated with the Trump campaign, was involved in a plan to run television ads that “repeat and rely on false claims of fraud in the 2020 election” and the public encouraged contacting state officials to urge them to contest and overturn election results based on these allegations.

Gingrich was also involved in a plan to have fake Republican voters sign certificates falsely stating that Trump had won the state and that they were the state’s official voters even though Democrat Joe Biden had won, the petition said .

The petition, which is asking for Flynn’s testimony, says he appeared in an interview on conservative cable news network Newsmax and said Trump could “take military capabilities” and place them in swing states and “essentially an election in repeat to each of these states”.

He also met with Trump, attorney Sidney Powell and others at the White House on Dec. 18, 2020, for a meeting that news reports said “focused on issues such as invoking martial law, confiscating voting machines and appointing Powell as special representative Attorney to investigate 2020 election,” Willis wrote.

Willis filed a petition in August to solicit testimony from Powell.

Herschmann, who featured prominently in the House Committee hearings on the Capitol attack, was a senior adviser to Trump from August 2020 until the end of his term and “has been at several meetings between former President Trump and others related to the Elections 2020 present”. Willis wrote in the petition asking for his testimony.

She wrote that the House committee also revealed that Herschmann had “several conversations” with Eastman, Giuliani, Powell “and others known to be associated with the Trump campaign regarding their efforts to secure the results of the election in Georgia and elsewhere in November 2020.” Specifically, he had a “heated conversation” with Eastman “about the Georgia effort,” she added.

Willis also filed petitions on Friday to compel testimony from Jim Penrose and Stephen Cliffgard Lee.

She identified Penrose as a “cyber investigation, operations and forensics consultant” who worked with Powell and others known to be associated with the Trump campaign in late 2020 and early 2021.

He also communicated with Powell and others about an agreement to hire data solutions company SullivanStrickler to copy data and software from voting system equipment in Coffee County, about 200 miles southeast of Atlanta, and in Michigan and Nevada, Willis wrote. Penrose did not immediately respond to an email and phone message asking for comment.

Willis wrote in a petition asking for Lee’s testimony that he was part of an effort to pressure poll worker Ruby Freeman, who has been the subject of false allegations of voter fraud in Fulton County. He could not be reached immediately for comment.

Special grand juries are used in Georgia to investigate complex cases with large numbers of witnesses and potential logistical problems. They can coerce evidence and subpoena witnesses for questioning, and unlike regular grand juries, they can also subpoena the target of an investigation to appear before it.

When the investigation is complete, the special grand jury produces a final report and can recommend actions. It is then up to the district attorney to decide whether to ask a regular grand jury for an indictment.