Atlanta D.A. Requests Special Grand Jury in Trump Election Inquiry
"The prosecutor, Fani T. Willis of Fulton County, Ga., is conducting a criminal investigation of election interference by the former president and his allies.
A district attorney in Atlanta on Thursday asked a judge to convene a special grand jury to help investigate former President Donald J. Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia.
The request from the district attorney in Fulton County, Fani T. Willis, whose inquiry is seen by legal experts as potentially perilous for the former president, had been expected because crucial witnesses had refused to participate voluntarily — as has been the case with many investigations into Mr. Trump’s actions. A grand jury could issue subpoenas compelling them to provide information.
The distinction of a special grand jury is that it would focus exclusively on the Trump investigation, whereas regular grand juries handle many cases and cannot spend as much time on a single one. The Georgia case is one of two active criminal investigations known to involve the former president and his circle; the other is an examination of his financial dealings by the Manhattan district attorney.
“The District Attorney’s Office has received information indicating a reasonable probability that the State of Georgia’s administration of elections in 2020, including the State’s election of the President of the United States, was subject to possible criminal disruptions,” Ms. Willis wrote in a letter to Christopher S. Brasher, the chief judge of the Fulton County Superior Court, which was first reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
She added, “We have made efforts to interview multiple witnesses and gather evidence, and a significant number of witnesses and prospective witnesses have refused to cooperate with the investigation absent a subpoena requiring their testimony.”
Ms. Willis said that Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state, was among those who had refused to cooperate without a subpoena.
Her investigation concerns Mr. Trump’s actions in the two months between his election loss and Congress’s certification of the results, including a call he made to Mr. Raffensperger to pressure him to “find 11,780 votes” — the margin by which Mr. Trump lost the state. That was one of a number of steps taken by Mr. Trump and his allies to overturn Georgia’s election outcome.
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Representatives for Mr. Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.
In addition to the Georgia inquiry and the one being conducted by the Manhattan district attorney, New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, is leading a civil fraud investigation of Mr. Trump’s business empire. She has issued subpoenas seeking interviews with two of his adult children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr., and her office previously interviewed Eric Trump.
Mr. Trump and his allies have also been sparring in court with the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. The committee won a major victory on Wednesday when the Supreme Court refused a request from Mr. Trump to block the release of White House records, and on Thursday, the panel asked Ivanka Trump to cooperate in the inquiry.
In the Georgia inquiry, Ms. Willis said last year that she would consider racketeering charges, among others. An analysis by the Brookings Institution that has been studied by Ms. Willis’s office concluded that Mr. Trump’s postelection conduct in Georgia put him “at substantial risk of possible state charges,” including racketeering, election fraud solicitation, intentional interference with performance of election duties and conspiracy to commit election fraud.
“Anything that is relevant to attempts to interfere with the Georgia election will be subject to review,” Ms. Willis told The New York Times last year.
“An investigation is like an onion,” she added. “You never know. You pull something back, and then you find something else.”
Richard Fausset contributed reporting."