Jul 21, 2022 - Podcasts

A Georgia DA gets closer to Trump

There’s been movement this week in a Georgia investigation into whether former President Trump interfered in the 2020 election. 16 Republicans who apparently participated in a fake elector scheme have been named as targets by the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office.

  • Plus, advice for staying cool.
  • And, new bipartisan legislation that aims to protect future elections.

Guests: Axios' Emma Hurt and Nicole Cobler; Axios Today listeners.

Credits: Axios Today is produced by Niala Boodhoo, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Alexandra Botti, Nuria Marquez Martinez, Lydia McMullen-Laird, Alex Sugiura, and Ben O'Brien. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at [email protected]. You can text questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.

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NIALA: Good morning! Welcome to Axios Today!

It’s Thursday, July 21st.

I’m Niala Boodhoo.

With at least a third of all Americans experiencing a heatwave this week, we hear advice for staying cool…including from many of you.

But first, today’s One Big Thing: A Georgia DA gets closer to Trump’s inner circle.

NIALA: There’s been movement this week in a Georgia investigation into whether former President Trump interfered in the 2020 election. 16 Republicans who apparently participated in a fake elector scheme in the state have been named as targets by the Fulton County DA’s Office. And yesterday we learned former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani was ordered to appear next month before a grand jury there. Axios Atlanta reporter Emma Hurt has more, hey Emma.

EMMA HURT: Hey Niala.

NIALA: So Emma, we learned about this from court filings released on Tuesday. This investigation into the 2020 election has been pretty wide ranging, but now it seems like the focus is on these fake electors. Who are they?

EMMA: Right. So back in December 2020, when Georgia's electoral college votes were officially cast after the election results were certified, you had the democratic electors meeting in the State Capitol to officially cast the electoral college votes that happens in every state every year. But you had last year a secret meeting, really, of Republican electors one floor below. I was in the building that day, and it was very strange, we couldn't quite figure out what they were doing. But what we know now is that this was something that the White House was working on in several states where they felt that they still had a case to those state's electoral college votes, even though the elections had already been certified. But it was this last ditch, really at a left field strategy to get around the traditional electoral college vote process that normally happens.

NIALA: So just so I understand this correctly, there were the actual electors who were certifying the election, but then there was this alternate group and they were Republicans and they were certifying the election saying that Trump won?

EMMA: Exactly. That's what they were trying to do. And you know, each year you have your slate of electors in case Republican wins, who will officially meet to cast the electoral college votes for each state and are Democrat. If you lose, your guys don't get to cast the votes. But in 2020 in Georgia and in a couple other states, Republicans still tried to “certify their votes” and even tried, as we know, to give these votes to Vice President Mike Pence.

NIALA: And so now this investigation seems like it's getting closer to the former President Trump. What does Rudy Giuliani's subpoena mean?

EMMA: Right, so Rudy Giuliani and Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina are really our closest, the most prominent people that we know about who have been subpoenaed closest to Trump. And both of them are fighting or ignoring their subpoenas. This is a secret investigation, we don't know exactly who else has been subpoenaed and who else has been named a target even. But Rudy Giuliani's significance is that, you know, they're not messing around. And the Fulton County DA is getting closer and closer to Trump.

NIALA: Emma, I think a lot of people have been focused on Washington and the House select committee and January 6th hearings. But how much of a risk do proceedings like this in Georgia pose to former President Trump?

EMMA: What's interesting about this investigation is that unlike Congress, which could very well flip control to Republicans this fall, this DA is in office now for four more years. And so she can continue with her investigation as long as voters continue electing her as DA. And this also could mean criminal charges for anyone all the way up to the president is the hypothetical scenario here. And so some have argued to me that this is really the investigation with the biggest threat to former President Trump and his allies when it comes to the 2020 election.

NIALA: Axios’ Emma Hurt in Atlanta. Thanks Emma.

EMMA: Thank you Niala.

NIALA: In other elector news: here in Washington yesterday a bipartisan group of 16 senators unveiled new legislation that aims to change election law to protect future elections.

The first of two bills modernizes the Electoral Count Act of 1887 and would clarify that the vice president’s role in certifying elections is merely ceremonial.

Remember in the 2020 election then Vice President Pence was pressured by former president Trump and lawyer John Eastman to reject electors to keep president Biden from the presidency.

The second bill creates penalties for the intimidation of election workers, voters, and candidates. As Axios’ Sophia Cai and Andrew Solender report, if passed this would mark the first major legislative response to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack and the events leading to it.

NIALA: In a moment, back with advice on energy efficiency during a heat wave.

NIALA: Welcome back to Axios Today. I'm Niala Boodhoo. More than a hundred million Americans were under excessive heat warnings yesterday. That's basically a third of the country under a massive heat dome that's bringing temperatures up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. That means Phoenix is shutting down popular hiking trails, Salt Lake City is keeping its libraries open as cooling centers and Boston has more than 50 splash pads open at pools and parks across the city. Sometimes just spraying water on you is the best way to cool off, but we wanted to ask you all what your favorite tips are for beating the heat.

NATE: So I grew up without AC in Ohio. And what we would do is get wet washcloths and put them on our necks or our face when we were trying to sleep.

MATTHEW: My trick is to avoid going home. The company AC is free to me.

ALLISON: One thing I really don't take for granted in hot weather like this is the power of an ice cold shower.

HEATHER: We shut our blinds and our curtains to try to keep as much sun out as possible.

CHAD: At work I rely on a fan and loose fitting, dry fit type polos. And at home my wife and I are contemplating tenting the west facing windows on our house.

NIALA: Thanks to all of you. And now Nicole Cobler joins us from Axios Austin. Yesterday marked the 40th triple digit temperature day of the year for Austin, Texas, where buses are acting as mobile chilling stations as people are taken to the city's cooling centers. Thanks for joining us, Nicole.

NICOLE COBLER: Hi, I'm sweating.

NIALA: We all are right. So everyone's energy usage is skyrocketing. One listener texted that he thinks his fan lowers temperatures for the air conditioning by a few degrees. How much do fans help in weather like this?

NICOLE: Yeah, they help a lot. And also if you're in Texas, you know how important it is to conserve energy with the grid, you know, being on the brink at all times. So, it's really important to keep your blinds closed during the day, especially those in direct sunlight. I also purchased a battery powered fan at the beginning of the summer, and that will come in handy if I lose power of course. And it's helpful now when I'm trying to keep cool.

NIALA: One of our listeners texted, this is a good time to remember to check on your neighbors, but also remember signs of heat illnesses. What are those?

NICOLE: Yeah. Symptoms of heat exhaustion are excessive sweating, cool pale clammy skin, muscle cramps, weak pulse, and also heat stroke symptoms are dry skin that's hot to the touch, confusion, loss of consciousness.

NIALA: Given the stress on the grid, there is a possibility that people will experience power outages. If that happens, how should people handle that?

NICOLE: Definitely drink a lot of water. Make sure your loved ones and pets are doing the same. I would also say using towels soaked in cold water, using ice packs on your body will help you cool down on your wrists and the back of your knees. Also use that battery powered fan to circulate the air, open your windows at night to circulate air when it's cool. And keep your fridge and freezer door closed so that hopefully if you're in a rolling blackout, you can hang onto that food. And lastly, I think what I see in Austin is everyone uses the city pools around here, especially Barton Springs. That's what I'm doing all the time to stay cool when it's a hundred degrees.

NIALA: And in some ways, should people be preparing for this just like any other natural disaster?

NICOLE: Yeah, I really think you should. Especially if you're in a place where it's triple digits, you know, keep your car filled with gas, get cash, and make sure you have non-perishables. I think we really learned that in Texas last year, when we were left for days without power you know, you, you have to think ahead and plan accordingly. Keep your place cool and conserve energy.

NIALA: Nicole Cobler is a reporter for Axios Austin. Thanks Nicole. Stay cool.

NICOLE: Thank you.

NIALA: That’s it for us today! I’m Niala Boodhoo, thanks for listening, stay safe and we’re back with the news tomorrow morning.

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