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Attorneys move to invoke immunity, quash subpoenas for state legislators in Fulton County Trump probe

The special grand jury convened by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis began hearing testimony earlier this month.

FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — Attorneys moved this week to quash subpoenas for Georgia state legislators in the Fulton County special grand jury looking at former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn Georgia's 2020 election results.

It's not clear how many members of the Georgia General Assembly have been subpoenaed in the probe, which was convened by Fulton County DA Fani Willis and began hearing testimony earlier this month.

The court filing lists state Sen. William Ligon, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan (the president of the Senate) "and others."

Attorneys for those lawmakers are contending they cannot be questioned on anything relating to their legislative conduct, citing state constitutional privilege and immunity clauses.

The filing states that under the Georgia Constitution, Willis:

  • "may not ask any Member of the General Assembly or staff to testify about matters that occurred in the witness' legislative capacity, including conversations a Member had with any other Member or staff,"
  • "may not ask any Member or staff to testify about the motivations of any Member regarding his or her legislative activities (including, for example, the motivations for questions posed during committee meetings, the motivation for convening committee hearings, or the motivation for allowing certain witnesses to testify, or any other facet of the Member's legislative activities,"
  • "may not ask a Member to reveal any research the Member conducted (or staff conducted) including interviewing constituents, lobbyists, or other sources of information that relates to the legislative process."

The second clause could be most pertinent to Willis' investigation - the Georgia Senate held two hearings in December 2020 on election fraud, one of which heavily featured Rudy Giuliani and other proponents of election fraud narratives testifying at the Georgia Capitol.

That hearing was held by a Senate Judiciary subcommittee chaired by Ligon.

According to attorneys for the legislators, Georgia's constitution "grants unqualified legislative immunity to legislators and their staff for any conduct related to their activity as legislators."

They argue that a court should "consider the propriety" of any questions Willis might consider asking legislators before the special grand jury.

"The alternative would require this court to evaluate all questions to all Members who have been subpoenaed throughout the course of each Members' testimony over the following weeks or months," the filing states. "Setting ground rules in advance... is the efficient method of evaluating the scope and breadth of the privileges and immunities enjoyed by the Members and staff."

They grant that "there are questions the District Attorney may pose to the witness that are entirely unrelated to his legislative duties," but that "there are undeniably numerous topics that are within the scope of the legislative immunity and legislative privilege and may not be the subject of any inquiry."

They argue the existing subpoenas should be effectively dismissed - or "quashed."

They are asking for an order that "bars the DA from demanding the appearance of any Member at the Grand Jury to respond to questions relating to the Member's legislative duties and holding that the DA may not ask any witness to reveal any communications involving the Member and any other person relating to the Member's legislative duties."

   

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