Georgia prosecutor requests special grand jury in Trump investigation

Decision on whether to bring criminal charges against former president could arrive within first half of 2022

Alex Woodward
New York
Thursday 20 January 2022 18:14 GMT
Listen: Trump bullies and threatens Georgia secretary of state to 'find 11,780 votes'
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The chief prosecutor in Fulton County, Georgia has requested a special grand jury as part of her investigation into Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the state’s results in the 2020 presidential election.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who launched her probe nearly one year ago, follows the former president’s phone call with Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which he appeared to pressure him to “find” votes that would overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the state.

In a letter to the chief judge of Fulton County’s Superior Court, first reported byThe Atlanta Journal Constitution, Ms Willis requested a special grand jury after a “significant number of witnesses and prospective witnesses have refused to cooperate with the investigation absent a subpoena requiring their testimony.”

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, Ms Willis says her office opened the investigation into “coordinated attempts to unlawfully alter the outcome of 2020 elections” in Georgia.

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

The latest move from Ms Willis’s office comes as a decision on whether to bring criminal charges could arrive within the first half of 2022.

“I believe in 2022 a decision will be made in that case,” Ms Willis told the Associated Press this month. “I certainly think that in the first half of the year that decisions will be made.”

The scope of the investigation includes a 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.

“We’re going to just get the facts, get the law, be very methodical, very patient and, in some extent, unemotional about this quest for justice,” she told the Associated Press.

The potential criminal inquiry – which a spokesperson for 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.

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 claims.

“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.”

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