Trump investigation in Georgia could include other states in sweeping racketeering case, report says

The 2024 Republican frontrunner’s attempts to overturn 2020 results could be at the centre of a RICO case

Alex Woodward
New York
Friday 02 June 2023 15:24 BST
Trump plays down legal threat of secret papers recording

A Georgia prosecutor’s criminal investigation into Donald Trump’s alleged interference in the 2020 presidential election has reportedly expanded its scope to include activities in Washington DC and several other states, suggesting that Atlanta-area district attorney Fani Willis is exploring a racketeering case against the former president and his allies.

Her office is seeking information related to the Trump campaign’s attempts to uncover voter fraud, then bury findings that did not reveal any, according to The Washington Post, citing two people with knowledge of the probe. At least one firm that worked with the Trump campaign has been subpoenaed by Fulton County investigators, according to the newspaper.

Ms Willis has previously indicated that her office may turn to Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute, typically used to break up organised crime. Ms Willis has relied on the statute for indictments against more than two dozen people connected to a sprawling Atlanta hip-hop empire, 38 alleged gang members, and 25 educators accused of cheating Atlanta’s public school system.

The statute includes penalties of up to 20 years in prison.

Her probe is reportedly investigating the Trump campaign’s hiring of two firms – Simpatico Software Systems and Berkeley Research Group – to study whether there was election fraud in 2020, though the findings disputed Mr Trump’s ongoing baseless narrative that he won the presidential contest that year.

According to The Post, Ms Willis’s office has asked both firms for information about Georgia as well as other states where Mr Trump disputed the election’s outcome. His campaign and his allies sought to reject results in Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, with a parallel plot to dispute and ultimately overturn the electoral college certification at a joint session of Congress on 6 January 2021.

In January 2022, Ms Willis convened a special grand jury, a 26-member panel given subpoena power and investigative authority to interview witnesses and ultimately deliver a report, as per state law, that includes charging recommendations.

The grand jury does not have authority to issue an indictment. It will ultimately be up to Ms Willis to determine whether to charge Mr Trump and others connected to her case.

Her office sent letters to people connected to the so-called “alternate electors” scheme, including Georgia lawmakers and the chair of the Georgia Republican Party, and more than a dozen others who signed “unofficial electoral certificates” to subvert the Electoral College process and pledge the state’s votes for Mr Trump, who lost in Georgia.

Central to the investigation is Mr Trump’s call on 2 January 2021, which he made days before a joint session of Congress convened to certify Mr Biden’s victory, while those faithful to Mr Trump made last-ditch efforts to pressure then-Vice President Mike Pence to reject the election’s outcome, or stormed the US Capitol in an antidemocratic show of force that has led to hundreds of federal prosecutions, including more than a dozen on treason-related charges.

Ms Willis is expected to announce a decision on charges this summer.

The case is separate from the US Department of Justice special counsel probe helmed by Jack Smith, who is investigating the former president’s mishandling of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago property as well as events surrounding January 6.

The Independent has requested comment from Ms Willis’s office and a representative for Mr Trump.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in