Rudolph W. Giuliani, who served as personal attorney for former President Donald J. Trump, was interviewed last week by federal prosecutors investigating Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, people familiar with the matter said.
The voluntary interview, which took place under what is known as an offer agreement, was a significant development in the election interference investigation led by special counsel Jack Smith, and the latest indication that Mr. Smith and his team they are actively looking for witnesses who might cooperate in the case.
The session with Giuliani, people familiar with her said, touched on some of the most important aspects of the special counsel’s investigation into the ways in which Trump tried to maintain his grip on power after losing the election to Joseph R. Biden. jr.
“The appearance was entirely voluntary and conducted in a professional manner,” said Ted Goodman, Giuliani’s political adviser.
An offer agreement is an understanding between prosecutors and people who are the subject of criminal investigations that may precede a formal cooperation agreement. Subjects agree to provide useful information to the government, sometimes to tell their version of events, to avoid possible charges, or to avoid testifying under subpoena before a grand jury. In return, the prosecutors agree not to use those statements against them in future criminal proceedings unless it is determined that they were lying.
Prosecutors working for Smith have questioned Giuliani about a plan to create fake lists of pro-Trump voters in key swing states that Biden actually won, said a person familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity. discuss an ongoing criminal investigation. They specifically focused on the role he played in that effort, John Eastman, another lawyer who advised Trump on ways to stay in office after his defeat.
Giuliani also spoke about Sidney Powell, a lawyer briefly linked to the Trump campaign who made unsubstantiated claims about a cabal of foreign actors hacking into voting machines to steal the election from Trump, the person said.
Ms. Powell, who was sanctioned by a federal judge for promoting conspiracy theories about voting machines, also participated in an Oval Office meeting in December 2020 during which Trump was presented with a brazen scheme, with the Giuliani’s opposition. — use the military to seize control of the voting machines and re-run the elections.
The person said prosecutors also questioned Giuliani about the scene at the Willard Hotel days before the attack on the Capitol. Giuliani and a group of close Trump advisers — including Eastman, former Trump chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon and current Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn — had gathered at the hotel near the White House to discuss strategies before a violent mob stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, disrupting the certification of Biden’s victory over Trump.
The proposal session with Mr. Giuliani, whose elements were previously reported by CNNIt came as Smith’s team pressed ahead with its investigation of Trump’s election interference, even as it prepares for the former president’s trial on separate charges of endangering national security secrets and obstructing government efforts to recover classified documents.
Prosecutors have been bringing witnesses before a grand jury and conducting separate interviews from others as they seek to piece together a fuller picture of the various ways that Trump and his allies were promoting unsubstantiated claims that they had stolen the election from him and seeking to reverse their electoral defeat.
In some cases, they appear to be evaluating whether they can obtain useful information without necessarily agreeing to formal cooperation agreements.
Last week, The New York Times reported that prosecutors were in negotiations to reach an offer agreement with Michael Roman, the former director of election day operations for Trump’s 2020 campaign. Mr. Roman was also instrumental in helping put together the so-called fake voter scheme.
The drive to assemble pro-Trump voter slates from Biden-won swing states is one of several components of Smith’s investigation. Prosecutors also looked into whether Trump and his allies defrauded donors by raising money through false claims of voter fraud, examined attempts to use the Justice Department to lend credence to claims of voter fraud, and tried to piece together a detailed picture of the role played. by Mr. Trump in inciting the attack on the Capitol and halting Congressional certification of the loss of it.
It is unclear whether Mr. Giuliani will face charges in the special counsel’s investigation. He, too, is under scrutiny on many of the same issues by the district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia, who is conducting an extensive investigation into Trump’s efforts to reverse his electoral defeat in that swing state. .
As part of the Smith investigation, prosecutors questioned Roman’s aide, Gary Michael Brown, last week in front of a grand jury in US District Court in Washington that has been investigating attempts by Trump and his allies to quash the elections. . Federal prosecutors are also scheduled to interview Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state, who received a call from Trump in early January 2021 during which the former president asked him to “find” enough votes to put him over the top. of the first in the election in that state.
A longtime ally of Trump, who served two terms as New York City mayor, Giuliani effectively led the former president’s attempts to reverse his defeat in the last presidential race and has for months been the main focus of the wide-ranging investigation into the Department of Justice on the post-election period. His name has appeared on several subpoenas sent to former Trump advisers and a number of Republican state officials involved in the scheme to create fake voter lists.
Last year, shortly before Smith was appointed to his job as special counsel, the Justice Department subpoenaed Giuliani to obtain records related to his representation of Trump, including those detailing the payments he had received. A group of federal prosecutors, including Thomas Windom, had been following various aspects of the investigation into Mr. Trump’s efforts to remain in power prior to Mr. Smith’s appointment and continue to play a key role in the investigation.
Among the things prosecutors have been examining is the inner workings of Trump’s fundraising vehicle, Save America PAC. The records requested from Mr. Giuliani could include some related to payments made by the PAC, according to a person familiar with the matter.
More recently, prosecutors have been raising questions about Trump’s false claims that his election loss was caused by widespread fraud and how he aggressively raised money from those claims. Prosecutors have delved into the issue of whether people close to Trump knew he had lost the race but continued to raise money on the fraud allegations anyway.
The House select committee that investigated the attack on the Capitol on January 6 first publicly raised questions about Trump’s fundraising, and the special counsel team picked up on that thread. Among other questions the witnesses have been asked is whether their lawyers are being paid by the political action committee that became the trustee of money raised from Trump’s false claims of widespread fraud.
Investigators walked a timeline with various witnesses, including asking people about election night and what Giuliani may have said to Trump before his defiant speech declaring he had won the election, as well as about the January 6th and Trump’s statement. actions that day.
The special counsel’s office has focused on Trump’s thinking and who was telling him he had lost, according to people familiar with the questions. Among the questions have been whether there were concerns among people working with the campaign about the language used in TV ads about the fraud in December 2020, and who signed the ad copy.
Prosecutors also cited former Vice President Mike Pence, who was a key focus of Trump’s efforts to stay in power as he tried to pressure him into using his ceremonial role of oversight of congressional certification to prevent Biden from being certified.