WASHINGTON – Donald Trump ally Bernard Kerik, a friend of alleged co-conspirator Rudy Giuliani, met Monday with prosecutors in charge of the case that accuses Trump of seeking to overthrow his 2020 election loss, Kerik’s lawyer said.
The interview dealt largely with Giuliani’s actions in what he called an effort to fight voter fraud – and what special counsel Jack Smith called an illegal conspiracy to steal the 2020 election from President Joe Biden.
“Bernard Kerik sat with Special Counsel’s Office and told them the truth,” his attorney Timothy Parlatore said in a statement.
“Whether people agree with it or not, and even if some of the claims have since been debunked, the unavoidable reality is that the Giuliani team was making a good faith effort to investigate claims of fraud at the time,” Parlatore said.
He added: “It is unfortunate that Jack Smith didn’t wait until finishing his investigation before bringing an indictment based on a false theory and making his own false public statements.”
Giuliani, one of the unnamed co-conspirator in the Trump indictment, has also denied wrongdoing.
But Kerik’s interview by the special counsel team, which his lawyer said lasted nearly five hours, suggests that prosecutors are now homing in on Giuliani in their ongoing investigation into the alleged conspiracy to overturn the former president’s loss in the 2020 election.
Close ties, even after prison time
Kerik and Giuliani have a long and, at times, close history of personal ties and political alliances.
When he was mayor of New York City, Giuliani tapped Kerik to be his police commissioner, the top law enforcement job in America’s largest city, which was still reeling from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Before that, Kerik served as commissioner of the New York City Department of Corrections.
In 2020, Kerik was pardoned by Trump following convictions for tax fraud and making false statements. After Trump’s election loss, Giuliani brought Kerik onboard as a top aide in his efforts to investigate allegations of voter fraud and promote “Stop the Steal” efforts.
The special House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection subpoenaed Kerik and interviewed him at length about his – and Giuliani’s – role in those events. The more than 200-page transcript of Kerik’s interview with the committee describes in detail how the former top cop acted as a coordinator for Giulani’s efforts to dig up evidence of election fraud in as many as seven key swing states, including Georgia.
None of those efforts appeared to go anywhere, the House committee later concluded. But with Kerik acting as his investigator, Giuliani pressed election officials in those states — and Republican lawmakers in Congress — to find such evidence of fraud, and then use it to help Trump overturn the election results.
In his House committee deposition, Kerik denied any wrongdoing, insisting that he was a staunch believer in the U.S. constitutional system of government and would have never participated in any effort to knowingly promote false claims.
Parlatore told USA TODAY prior to Monday that his client was willing to testify to federal investigators as he had already before the House committee. Also, Kerik had already turned over examples of probable case of election fraud to the Justice Department for further investigation in late 2020, Parlatore said.
One of Kerik’s efforts involved pushing a “strategic communications plan” for a “GIULIANI PRESIDENTIAL LEGAL DEFENSE TEAM,” according to his deposition and documents he provided.
That plan, according to Kerik and others, It was meant to pressure swing-state senators and other Republican members of Congress to vote against certifying the 2020 election results. It included issues for them to highlight including that dead and underage people had voted in large numbers, and that there were widespread instances of fraudulent ballots being submitted.
Last week’s federal indictment of Trump lists six alleged co-conspirators who it says were critical cogs in Trump’s multi-pronged effort to overthrow the election. None of them are named, but Giuliani has all but acknowledged that he is Co-Conspirator 1, whom Smith says played a central role in the conspiracy.
The indictment, for instanced, describes Co-Conspirator 1 as “an attorney who was willing to spread knowingly falseclaims and pursue strategies that the Defendant’s 2020 re-election campaign attorneys would not.”
The day after Trump’s Nov. 3, 2020 election loss, “the Defendant turned to Co-Conspirator 1, whom he announced would spearhead his efforts going forward to challenge the election results. From that point on, theDefendant and his co-conspirators executed a strategy to use knowing deceit in the targeted statesto impair, obstruct, and defeat the federal government function, including as described below.”
And according to information gathered in both the House and Justice Department investigations, Kerik worked closely with Giuliani on key elements of that alleged plot.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Kerik, ally of Trump and Giuliani, meets with Jan. 6 prosecutors