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Special grand jury granted in probe of Trump’s election interference in Georgia

Former president insists he ‘didn’t say anything wrong’ on his call with election officials to ‘find’ votes

Alex Woodward
New York
Monday 24 January 2022 23:01 GMT
Listen: Trump bullies and threatens Georgia secretary of state to 'find 11,780 votes'

The top prosecutor in Fulton County, Georgia has been granted a special grand jury in her investigation of Donald Trump’s alleged attempts to overturn the state’s results in the 2020 presidential election.

In a request to the county’s Superior Court judges last week, District Attorney Fani Willis requested to seat a special grand jury to convene on 2 May. Judges approved the request on Monday.

A special grand jury cannot issue indictments but may subpoena witnesses, produce documents, and investigate other offices as part of the probe.

In her letter dated 20 January, first reported by The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Ms Willis said her office opened the investigation into “coordinated attempts to unlawfully alter the outcome of 2020 elections” in Georgia.

At the centre of the investigation is the president’s phone call with Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which Mr Trump appeared to pressure him to “find” votes that would overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the state.

In a taped call with Mr Raffensperger, recordings of which were first obtained by The Washington Post, Mr Trump said: “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have.”

Mr Trump suggested that the secretary of state and and his chief counsel Ryan Germany could be criminally prosecuted if they did not follow through with his wishes.

“You know what they did and you’re not reporting it,” the former president said during the call. “You know, that’s a criminal — that’s a criminal offence. And you know, you can’t let that happen. That’s a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer. That’s a big risk.”

Mr Raffensperger has indicated to Fulton County prosecutors that he will not participate in the probe.

Ms Willis told the Associated Press last month that she anticipates making a decision whether to bring criminal charges within the first half of 2022.

Her investigation includes the phone call on 2 January, 2021 between then-president Trump and Mr Raffensperger, the abrupt resignation of the US attorney in Atlanta on 4 January, 2021, a November 2020 phone call between Mr Raffenspberger and US Senator Lindsey Graham, and comments made during the state’s 2020 legislative sessions during committee hearings about the election.

A potential criminal inquiry – which Mr Trump dismissed as a “witch hunt” – is not the only one facing the former president; the House select committee investigating the Capitol riot has accelerated its probe into the events and people surrounding the attack, and prosecutors in New York have issued subpoenas to the Trump family as part of an investigation into his business dealings.

Mr Trump has lashed out at Ms Willis’s office, insisted he “didn’t say anything wrong” on his call with Georgia officials, and continued to amplify his baseless claims that the results in Georgia were fraudulent or manipulated.

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