FAIRFAX, Va. – A local judge ordered former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to testify before a Georgia grand jury as part of a wide-ranging criminal investigation into interference in the 2020 election.
Circuit Court Judge Robert Smith on Wednesday rejected arguments that Gingrich’s appearance was “not necessary and would impose an undue hardship” to travel to Atlanta later this month.
Gingrich declined comment following the brief hearing.
Attorney John Burlingame said he would likely appeal the ruling, which now requires Gingrich, a former Georgia congressman, to appear Nov. 29.
Fulton County prosecutors are seeking to question Gingrich about December 2020 contacts with the Donald Trump campaign in which Gingrich pushed for broadcasting television ads “promoting the false narrative that election workers had smuggled suitcases containing fake ballots” to the State Farm Arena in Atlanta where ballots were being counted.
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“The goal is to arouse the country’s anger through new verifiable information the American people have never seen before,” Gingrich allegedly wrote in a Dec. 8, 2020, email to Trump campaign associates. “If we inform the American people in a way they find convincing and it arouses their anger, they will then bring pressure on legislatures and governors.”
Burlingame argued that Gingrich should be spared from submitting to questioning in Georgia because he has already agreed to be interviewed by the special House committee investigating the Capitol attack Nov. 21.
The attorney said Gingrich would be questioned about the same issues cited by Georgia prosecutors and that a transcript of the House interview could be provided to Georgia prosecutors.
The judge rejected the argument, and another challenging the authority of the Fulton County special grand jury. The attorney said Gingrich should not be forced to provide testimony to the Atlanta-area panel because it is not a traditional grand jury with the power to issue indictments.
As created, the Fulton County panel is an investigative body that may recommend prosecution in a final report. Any final charging decision would be left to local District Attorney Fani Willis, who has been leading the inquiry.
A similar subpoena challenge was waged and rejected last month by former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, one of several high profile witnesses who have unsuccessfully sought to avoid subpoenas in the case.
Meadows, a central figure in Trump’s unsuccessful effort to flip the 2020 Georgia vote, was a party to a January 2021 telephone call in which Trump pressed Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to deny President Joe Biden’s victory in the key battleground state.