Former former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani faced a special grand jury on Wednesday under a judge’s order to appear before the panel investigating attempts by former US president Donald Trump and others to overturn his 2020 election defeat in Georgia.
News cameras swarmed around Mr Giuliani, former lawyer for Mr Trump, as he stepped out of a car on Wednesday and walked up the steps into the Fulton County courthouse in Atlanta.
Mr Giuliani told reporters that he would not talk about his evidence.
“Grand juries, as I recall, are secret,” he told reporters.
“They ask the questions and we’ll see.”
Grand jury secrecy rules prohibit people present during grand jury testimony from discussing it, but that prohibition does not apply to witnesses. Mr Giuliani is a former federal prosecutor.
It is unclear how much he will be willing to say now that his lawyers have been informed he is a target of the investigation.
Questioning will take place behind closed doors because the special grand jury proceedings are secret.
Yet his appearance is another high-profile step in a rapidly escalating investigation that has ensnared several Trump allies and brought heightened scrutiny to the desperate and ultimately failed efforts to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s 2020 election win.
It is one of several investigations into Mr Trump’s actions in office as he lays the groundwork for another run at the White House in 2024.
Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis opened her investigation after the disclosure of a remarkable January 2, 2021, phone call between Mr Trump and Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger.
During the call Mr Trump suggested that Mr Raffensperger could “find” the exact number of votes that would be needed to flip the election results in Georgia.
Mr Trump has denied any wrongdoing. He has described the call as “perfect”.
Ms Willis last month filed petitions to compel testimony from seven Trump associates and advisers.
She has also said she is considering calling Mr Trump himself to testify, and the former president has hired a legal team in Atlanta that includes a prominent criminal defence attorney.
In seeking Mr Giuliani’s testimony, Willis noted that he was both a personal lawyer for Mr Trump and a lead lawyer for his 2020 campaign.
She recalled in a petition how Mr Giuliani and others appeared at a state Senate committee meeting in late 2020 and presented a video that Mr Giuliani said showed election workers producing “suitcases” of unlawful ballots from unknown sources, outside the view of election poll watchers.
The claims of fraud were debunked by Georgia election officials within 24 hours.
Yet Mr Giuliani continued to make statements to the public and in subsequent legislative hearings claiming widespread election fraud using the debunked video, Ms Willis noted in her filing.
Ms Willis wrote in the court filing that Mr Giuliani’s hearing appearance and testimony were “part of a multi-state, coordinated plan by the Trump campaign to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere”.