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Boris Epshteyn, lawyer to Trump, testifies before Georgia grand jury

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 9/29/2022 Tom Hamburger
Boris Epshteyn, right, attends a celebration at the White House on April 1, 2019. © Andrew Harnik/AP Boris Epshteyn, right, attends a celebration at the White House on April 1, 2019.

Boris Epshteyn, a lawyer for former president Donald Trump, appeared Thursday before the grand jury in Fulton County, Ga., that is investigating whether Trump and his allies improperly interfered in the 2020 election.

The original request for Epshteyn’s testimony stated that he is a “necessary and material witness” in the investigation because he “is known to be affiliated with both former president Donald Trump and the Trump Campaign.” Among other things, it said he “possesses unique knowledge concerning the logistics, planning, and execution of efforts by the Trump Campaign to submit false certificates of vote to former vice president Michael Pence and others.”

The Georgia criminal investigation into Trump and his allies, explained

Epshteyn serves currently as counsel to Trump. An emergency filing in advance of his testimony suggested issues of “attorney-client privilege” could come into play in response to questions about Trump and related matters.

Epshteyn’s lawyer, David M. Chaiken, filed the emergency motion earlier this week asking the Fulton County court to provide more details before the Trump adviser’s required appearance. There was no sign in court records that the request was granted. Chaiken could not be reached for comment. The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, which is leading the inquiry, declined to comment.

Epshteyn is one of a series of high-profile Trump advisers who have appeared before the investigative grand jury. The list includes Rudy Giuliani, who testified for six hours in August, and John Eastman, who appeared in late August. Before their testimony, lawyers for both men said they were likely to cite “attorney client” privilege in response to grand jury questions.

Georgia 2020 election inquiry may lead to prison sentences, prosecutor says

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said recently that her team has interviewed more than half of its planned witnesses, a group that includes Georgia Republicans she has identified as targets of the criminal probe for purportedly casting electoral college votes for Trump in Georgia despite Joe Biden’s victory.

Giuliani was also told he was a target of the inquiry. Willis said in a recent interview that the number of targets is increasing.

Willis said she is considering calling Trump as a witness and predicted a decision will likely “be made late this fall.” Trump has said Willis is engaged in a “partisan witch hunt” as she aggressively pursues the inquiry.

Her investigation covers some of the same ground covered by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection and by the Justice Department investigation examining efforts to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power.

The status of key investigations involving Donald Trump

But Willis, a Democrat, has been at the forefront in publicly pursuing a criminal case, in part because she is able to take advantage of state statutes that could make a criminal prosecution faster and less cumbersome than a federal case.

While Willis has said she is making progress, she is still trying to secure testimony from several additional high-profile witnesses. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) has sought to toss out a federal court order compelling his testimony, citing protections provided to lawmakers by the U.S. Constitution. Graham’s case is being reviewed by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and will not be considered until next month. Depending on how the court rules, the matter could be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Willis has also sought testimony from former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. It is unclear when his testimony might occur.

Epshteyn’s appearance occurred as Willis prepares for the inquiry to move in to a quiet phase starting Oct. 7, so that grand jury activities won’t be seen as influencing the midterm election. A state court judge last month ordered Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) to comply with a subpoena but delayed his testimony until after the November election.

Willis has said she hopes the grand jury will wrap up its work before the end of the year. Once that happens, it will issue a report, and Willis will decide whether to bring criminal charges.

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