Four key takeaways from the partial release of Fulton County grand jury report

Grand jury recommends perjury charges for one or more witnesses

John Bowden
Washington DC
Thursday 16 February 2023 17:22 GMT
Key points from Trump's infamous Georgia call

Fulton County’s grand jury investigation into Donald Trump and his legal team’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia has concluded with recommendations for perjury charges against one or more witnesses who submitted testimony.

The nine-page document has been long awaited in the world of politics as it was set to be the first sign of whether Donald Trump and his allies will face serious legal consequences for attempts to overturn the election results in the key state.

Thursday’s release is likely to be the entirety of the document that will see the light of day; a judge has ruled that Fulton County District Attorney Fanni Willis is not required to release the full document. There are key omissions from the document, and, notably, prosecutors are not actually bound to follow the recommendations from the grand jury.

It’s just one of several investigations surrounding the former president. A special counsel has been appointed by the Justice Department to determine whether Mr Trump will be charged criminally at the federal level over the January 6 attack and efforts to subvert the election results, and he also faces a parallel investigation resulting from his retention of presidential records, some classified, at Mar-a-Lago.

Let’s dive in to the report:

No widespread fraud in Georgia

More than two years since voters in Georgia decided to serve Mr Trump an upset defeat, his allies are still claiming that the 2020 election was rigged in states across the country, including Georgia.

But they had their shot – once again – to prove their case before Fulton County’s grand jury, and it didn’t go so well.

“The Grand jury heard extensive testimony on the subject of alleged election fraud from poll workers, investigators, technical experts, and State of Georgia employees and officials, as well as from persons still claiming that such fraud took place. We find by unanimous vote that no widespread fraud took place in the Georgia 2020 presidential election that could result in overturning that election,” reads the report.

Grand jury recommends perjury indictment(s)

The most important information included in Thursday’s report: One or more witnesses were suspected of lying to the grand jury.

What does this mean? We know that Mr Trump did not personally testify to the grand jury, so any indictment for that charge would be limited to his legal team or, theoretically, one of the other witnesses and experts who submitted testimony.

A number of Mr Trump’s lawyers including John Eastman, currently facing an effort by the California State Bar to punish him as well, could be targeted with indictments for lying under oath. But there’s no information about what specifically the witness or witnesses in question lied about, nor any recommendations for crimes actually related to an effort to overturn the results.

In public statements, District Attorney Fani Williams has indicated that the grand jury recommended more than one indictment.

The district attorney is encouraged to seek further indictments

In the report’s conclusion, the grand jury noted that no election law experts were presnt among the group and asserted that the Fulton County district attorney could seek further indictments beyond charges of perjury as she sees fit.

“If this report fails to include any potential violations of referenced statutes that were shown in the investigation, we acknowledge the discretion of the District Attorney to seek indictments where she finds sufficient cause. Furthermore this Grand Jury contained no election law experts or criminal lawyers. The majority of this Grand Jury used their collective best efforts, however, to attend every session, listen to every witness, and attempt to understand the facts as presented and the laws as explained.”

No names

Summed up, the release on Thursday of parts of the Fulton County report are as much frustrating as they are illuminating. There are no mentions of any names in the report, and the only reason we know Mr Trump himself does not appear to be in legal jeopardy is his refusal to participate.

Other than vague statements asserting that the panel had spoken to experts including legal minds and state officials, as well as “persons still claiming that such fraud took place”, there are no clues revealing the scope of the Fulton County DA’s probe or how far into Trumpworld their quest for testimony reached.

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