ATLANTA — Republican U.S. Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia will have to appear before a court after a federal judge on Monday denied his request to quash his subpoena in the Trump election probe in Fulton County.
Federal Judge Leigh Martin May denied the request, but did say that the congressman has the right to raise objections to individual questions. She's now sending it back to Fulton County Superior Court.
The judge said he must respond to the subpoena or appear -- then object to the questions. She said another motion could be filed where he could potentially be protected as an elected congressman, but added that she has no grounds to fully quash this.
“We successfully removed this matter to federal court and filed the motion to quash to put the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office on notice that the U.S. Constitution prevents them from asking Members of Congress certain questions as part of their 'fishing expedition,' and Judge May acknowledged boundaries in her ruling,” Chris Gober, counsel to Congressman Hice, said in a statement. “This was the acknowledgment we were seeking, and we're now prepared to go back to Judge May in the future if the District Attorney’s Office tries to color outside the lines.”
Last week, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis responded in federal court to Hice's attempt to avoid testifying before the special grand jury. She rejected his arguments and asked that the matter be returned to Fulton County Superior Court “in preparation for Congressman Hice's compliance with his lawfully issued subpoena.”
Hice, who will leave office in January after an unsuccessful bid to unseat Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, was one of several GOP lawmakers who attended a December 2020 meeting at the White House in which Trump allies discussed various ways to overturn Joe Biden’s electoral win. Hice joined other members of the House Freedom Caucus, a conservative wing of the chamber, in the hours long meeting to discuss with then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows two specific strategies to subvert the election results.
The first was an effort to appoint an alternate slate of electors who would falsely declare Trump was the winner in seven battleground states won by Biden. The second was a plan to ramp up a pressure campaign against then-Vice President Mike Pence to disregard the true electoral votes from those seven states when he presided over the ceremonial certification process on Jan. 6, 2021.
Earlier this month, Willis began a process to subpoena out-of-state witnesses to testify. That included some close Trump advisers and allies, including U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who also served as Trump’s lawyer.
Willis has also said her team is looking into a Jan. 2, 2021, phone call in which Trump urged Georgia’s secretary of state, Raffensperger, to “find” enough votes to overturn his loss; calls that Sen. Lindsey Graham made to Raffensperger; and false claims of election fraud that were made by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and others during December 2020 legislative committee hearings at the state Capitol.
Since it is now being sent back to Fulton County, they will need to hash out dates. Since he was supposed to appear last week, but did not, it is unclear when he will appear.