Jul 7, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Georgia officials must testify in Trump investigation, judge rules

State Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) chaired a subcommittee focused on the 2020 election. Photo: David Goldman/AP

A Georgia judge ruled that Republican lawmakers including Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and state Sen. William Ligon must testify before a panel focused on the Atlanta investigation of former President Trump.

  • But, the judge set parameters regarding what questions they can be asked.

Why it matters: This sets a precedent for any other lawmakers trying to fight subpoenas from the Fulton County DA's special grand jury focused on the broad-reaching investigation into former president Trump and his allies' efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

The big picture: U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has said he plans to fight his own subpoena by the Fulton DA's investigation, but that legal challenge would take place out of Georgia.

Driving the news: Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney ruled Wednesday that the lawmakers must testify, but they are entitled to constitutionally protected "legislative immunity" during that testimony.

  • The witnesses, he ruled, may not be asked about anything said while participating in a session of the legislature, including any subcommittee, nor any communications they've had with other legislators or staff about any session.

Catch up quick: Ligon, a Republican from coastal Georgia, chaired several "Election Law Study" state Senate judiciary subcommittees in which Trump's one-time lawyer Rudy Giuliani, among others, testified about false allegations of voter fraud.

  • Ligon issued a "chairman's report" after the meeting that called the November election "chaotic" and said "any reported results must be viewed as untrustworthy" and repeated other false allegations of voter fraud.

Yes, but: McBurney explicitly stated that asking about any communication between a lawmaker or staffer with any private citizen, including lobbyists, are within the bounds of the law.

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