For The Record

Fulton DA gets go-ahead to call special grand jury for Trump investigation

By: - January 24, 2022 5:54 pm

A special grand jury investigation into whether former President Donald Trump and associates attempted to overturn the results of the 2020 election will allow Fani Willis to subpoena Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who Trump asked to “find” votes in a January 2021 phone call. File Stanley Dunlap/Georgia Recorder

A panel of Fulton County Superior Court judges Monday approved allowing District Attorney Fani Willis to summon a special grand jury to investigate whether former President Donald Trump and his associates attempted to illegally orchestrate overturning Georgia’s 2020 election results.

Chief Judge Christopher Brasher’s order comes after the lead prosecutor of Georgia’s most populous county requested last week that the judges permit to her to call a special grand jury to examine whether Trump or others illegally attempted to persuade election officials to flip his loss in favor of the GOP candidate.

According to the order, the grand jury will be in place on May 2 and able to meet for up to 12 months. Brasher wrote that the special grand jury would enable Fulton’s regular grand juries to continue clearing up the backlog of cases that piled up during the pandemic.

Willis wrote to Fulton judges on Thursday that special grand juries would have a better chance of handling the case’s complexities and would allow her to subpoena reluctant witnesses like Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who declined Trump’s request to “find” votes on a January 2021 phone call. The recorded call prompted Willis to open an investigation. 

A special grand jury cannot indict people like a regular grand jury, but it can make recommendations to prosecutors about whether to proceed with a case.

In the Fulton investigation, legal experts say that Trump’s former personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who claimed there was widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election at a Georgia Senate committee hearing and reportedly oversaw illegitimate electors, and others could face criminal charges.

Trump has defended his call with Raffensperger as the former president maneuvered to try to keep his job.

After the 2020 election, Trump and his allies cited unfounded allegations of voter fraud as the reason he narrowly lost in Georgia to Democrat Joe Biden by fewer than 12,000 votes.

Raffensperger and Willis have disputed how much the secretary of state’s office is cooperating with the investigation. Despite repeatedly rebutting claims that cast doubt on the election outcome, Raffensperger last week cast Willis’ investigation as politically motivated. 

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Stanley Dunlap
Stanley Dunlap

Stanley Dunlap has covered government and politics for news outlets in Georgia and Tennessee for the past decade. At The (Macon) Telegraph he told readers about Macon-Bibb County’s challenges implementing its recent consolidation, with a focus on ways the state Legislature determines the fate of local communities. He used open records requests to break a story of a $400 million pension sweetheart deal a county manager steered to a friendly consultant. The Georgia Associated Press Managing Editors named Stanley a finalist for best deadline reporting for his story on the death of Gregg Allman and best beat reporting for explanatory articles on the 2018 Macon-Bibb County budget deliberations. The Tennessee Press Association honored him for his reporting on the disappearance of Holly Bobo, which became a sensational murder case that generated national headlines.

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