Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue share the stage at a campaign event in Forsyth County in November 2020. Ross Williams/Georgia Recorder
This story was updated Sept. 8 at 5:01 p.m.
A Fulton County special grand jury recommended that prosecutors file criminal charges against former Georgia U.S. Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler and South Carolina U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham in the sweeping 2020 presidential election interference case.
The grand jury report released Friday reveals that the panel believed that the three U.S. senators and Michael Flynn, a former national security advisor to then-President Donald Trump, are among 21 alleged co-conspirators who should have been indicted in August when a regular grand jury handed down felony racketeering charges against Trump and 18 of his allies. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, who oversaw the seven-month long investigation that the 24-member panel conducted in 2022, made the full report public on Friday.
The special grand jury heard evidence and testimony from 75 witnesses before suggesting that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis pursue charges against three dozen people for their involvement in an alleged conspiracy to overturn a 2020 election that saw Democratic President Joe Biden narrowly end former President Donald Trump’s reelection bid.
In February, a limited section of the special panel’s 28-page report was released that says that the jurors believed multiple people perjured themselves in the case.
As the 2020 presidential election saga played out in Georgia and multiple other states, Loeffler and Perdue were also on the campaign trail in hotly contested runoff battles with Democratic challengers Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.
Perdue and Loeffler criticized the 2020 election results, calling the results a sham. Perdue and Loeffler met with Republican Gov. Brian Kemp after the Nov. 3, 2020 election in an attempt to convince him to convene a special session to overturn Trump’s victory.
Loeffler and Perdue would go on to be defeated by Warnock and Ossoff in their respective election races, an outcome that flipped control of Congress to Democrats as the Biden administration entered office in January 2021.
The special grand jury also voted 13-7 in favor of charging the veteran South Carolina lawmaker Graham, who faced questions about whether he tried to pressure state election officials about the 2020 election.
Graham’s attorneys have argued that he was performing his duties as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee when he contacted Georgia secretary of state’s office to ask about the state’s procedures for disqualifying absentee ballots and other election matters.
The three senators have denied breaking any laws related to the 2020 election and the 19 defendants in the Fulton election racketeering case have pleaded not guilty.
RICO ACT tied to national election conspiracy
The report lists each of the crimes that jurors believe were committed by each individual, and how panelists voted on who the district attorney should seek indictments against. The jurors also acknowledge the prosecutors’ discretion with the case moving forward.
“This grand jury contained no election law experts or criminal lawyers,” the report said. “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 presented and the laws as explained.”
Willis ramped up her investigation after the public release of a recorded January 2020 phone call in which Trump pressed Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to find enough ballots to overcome Biden’s victory.
With a special grand jury, prosecutors had a longer period of time to present an extensive case than with a typical superior court grand jury that has the power to indict.
The majority of jurors on the special grand jury voted in favor of criminal charges against the 19 defendants indicted in the probe. Additionally, 20 jurors supported charging three people who were not indicted in August: Flynn, top Trump advisor Boris Epshteyn and Georgia attorney Lin Wood, who unsuccessfully challenged the 2020 presidential election results.
Georgia’s RICO Act, which is modeled after a federal law designed to target mafia leaders, became the overarching felony charge tying together Trump and 18 co-defendants.
On Aug. 14, they were indicted on various charges of violating the RICO Act, attempting to solicit elected officials, making false statements, and other criminal offenses.
Several high-profile defendants included members of Trump’s inner circle, such as former personal attorneys Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman and ex-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
Charges were also filed against several false Electoral College voters, including freshman state Sen. Shawn Still, a Norcross Republican, and David Shafer, a former Georgia Republican Party chairman and state legislator.
The special investigation panel voted 20-1 in favor of charging Trump, Meadows, Giuliani, Eastman, Shafer and several other co-defendants for allegedly conspiring to reverse 2020 election results in Georgia and seven other battleground states where Trump lost.
The regular grand jury departed from the special panel by endorsing the prosecution of two GOP state legislators, former Sen. William Ligon and Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, for advocating for a special legislative session to challenge the presidential election outcome.
A special prosecutor is supposed to be appointed to decide whether to prosecute Jones, who as a Butts County state senator in 2020 was one of the alternate GOP electors who cast false votes declaring Trump the winner in Georgia.
Earlier this year, a judge disqualified Willis from pursuing any charges against Jones since she raised money for the eventual Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in 2022.
Jones is leading a group of state Senate GOP lawmakers who are calling for Willis to be investigated by a newly formed prosecutors oversight commission.
Ligon represented the coastal Brunswick district for 10 years before declining to seek re-election in 2020.
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