By Kate Brumback | The Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) — The Georgia prosecutor investigating possible attempts to interfere in the 2020 general election by former President Donald Trump and others has asked for a special grand jury to help investigation.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis sent a letter Thursday to Fulton County Superior Court Chief Judge Christopher Brasher asking him to appoint a special grand jury. She wrote in the letter that her office “has received information indicating a reasonable likelihood that the administration of the 2020 State of Georgia elections, including the statewide election for President of the United States, has subject to possible criminal disturbance”.
Willis declined to discuss details of his investigation, but in a interview with the Associated Press earlier this month, she confirmed that her scope includes – but is not limited to – a January 2, 2021, phone call between Trump and Georgian Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a November 2020 phone call between US Senator Lindsey Graham and Raffensperger, the abrupt resignation from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta on January 4, 2021, and comments made during the December 2020 Georgia Legislative Committee hearings on the election.
A Trump spokesperson previously called the investigation a politically motivated “witch hunt.” Graham also denied any wrongdoing.
In a statement Thursday, Trump said his appeal to Raffensperger was “perfect.”
“I said nothing wrong in the call, made while I was president on behalf of the United States of America, to investigate the massive voter fraud that took place in Georgia,” Trump said. He ended his statement by saying, “No more political witch hunts!”
Federal and state officials have repeatedly said there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Georgia or anywhere else in the country in the 2020 election.
A PA survey in cases of potential voter fraud in Georgia and the other five battleground states where Trump contested his loss to President Joe Biden found fewer than 500 cases.
In Georgia, officials have identified 64 potential cases of voter fraud, representing 0.54% of Biden’s margin of victory in the state. Of these, 31 were determined to be the result of administrative or other error.
Willis’ office attempted to interview several witnesses and gather evidence, but some witnesses and potential witnesses refused to cooperate without a subpoena, she wrote in the letter to Brasher. For example, Willis wrote in the letter that Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, whom she calls a “key witness,” has “indicated that he will not participate in an interview or present evidence until that he receives a subpoena from my office. .” A special grand jury would have the power to subpoena witnesses.
When asked by email if Raffensperger would decline to participate without a subpoena, a spokesperson sent a transcript of Raffensperger’s Thursday afternoon appearance on Fox News. Raffensperger said his office cooperated, sending Willis’ team everything they asked for, and that he would follow the law and comply if he was required to appear before a grand jury, according to the transcript.
Special grand juries, which are not often used in Georgia, can help investigate complex issues. They do not have the power to issue an indictment but can make recommendations to prosecutors on criminal prosecutions.
Willis said the special grand jury is necessary because it can serve a longer term than a normal grand jury term. He would also be able to focus solely on this investigation, allowing him to focus on the complex facts and circumstances. And having a special grand jury would mean that the regular grand jury would not have to deal with this investigation in addition to its usual duties, Willis wrote.
She also requested that a Superior Court judge be appointed to assist and oversee the special grand jury in its investigation.
Willis, who took office in January 2021, sent letters to senior Georgia elected officials in February asking them to retain all documents related to the general election, especially any evidence of attempts to influence election officials. The investigation includes “potential violations of Georgia law prohibiting the solicitation of voter fraud, making false statements to state and local government bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of the oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the administration of the election,” the letters said.
Willis, a long-time prosecutor, has repeatedly said she is aware of the intense public interest in her investigation, but said she would not be rushed. She told the AP that a decision on whether to press charges in the case could come in the first half of this year.
In his letter to Brasher, Willis said his office learned that people who may have tried to influence the Georgia election had contact with the secretary of state, state attorney general and office. of the United States Attorney in Atlanta. This means that his office is the only one authorized to investigate these matters who is not also a potential witness.