“Officials in Georgia are bracing for possible trouble around the Fulton County Courthouse, where indictments related to election interference are expected in mid-August.
The sheriff of Fulton County, Ga., said on Tuesday that if former President Donald J. Trump were to be indicted in connection with efforts to overturn the 2020 election in the state, he would not receive special treatment, and would be booked and photographed like any other defendant.
The Fulton County district attorney, Fani T. Willis, has signaled that she will bring indictments in the matter by the middle of the month.
“Unless someone tells me differently,” the sheriff, Patrick Labat, said on Tuesday, his office would follow “normal practices, and so it doesn’t matter your status. We’ll have mug shots ready for you.”
Sheriff Labat’s remarks raised the prospect that a former president could be booked at the county jail near downtown Atlanta. But it remains to be seen whether the Secret Service would weigh in and alter the sheriff’s plans, should an indictment of Mr. Trump come to pass.
When Mr. Trump was booked in New York this year on charges related to what prosecutors called a hush-money scheme to cover up a potential sex scandal, the authorities there did not end up taking his mug shot. Mr. Trump’s campaign designed a fake mug shot anyway, printed it on T-shirts and offered them for sale at $36 each.
Sheriff Labat spoke at an afternoon news conference across the street from the Fulton County Courthouse, where orange security barricades were erected last week. He said that for months, he and other law enforcement agencies have been preparing for possible trouble in Atlanta surrounding the sprawling state investigation of election interference by Mr. Trump and his allies.
Understand Georgia’s Investigation of Election Interference
Mr. Labat said that “dozens” of threats had emerged in recent months, directed at him, the district attorney and local judges. He said that one person was arrested several months ago based on a threat investigation, and that the authorities were looking into other threats.
“The threats have been many,” he said. “And so they started via email, via text message, via personal phone calls. And just as we had threats before, both Madam D.A. and I, we ran those to ground.”
He added: “When you make a threat — when you become a keyboard bully — it’s our goal to come and really hold you accountable.”
A fresh batch of subpoenas have been sent out to witnesses in the election interference investigation, instructing them to appear before one of the two grand juries that are now meeting behind closed doors at the courthouse, where many employees of the prosecutor’s office have been told to work from home as a safety precaution.
The new subpoenas offer hints to some aspects of the matter that prosecutors may want to highlight for grand jurors.
One of the people commanded to testify is a former state senator, Jen Jordan — a Democrat who served on a subcommittee that heard a presentation from Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s former lawyer, in December 2020. In that presentation, Mr. Giuliani laid out a number of baseless allegations of electoral fraud. Ms. Jordan confirmed on Tuesday that she had received a subpoena.
Prosectors told Mr. Giuliani last year that he was one of about 20 targets of their investigation, and legal experts have said he might be charged with making false statements to state officials, as well as violations of the state’s racketeering laws. Mr. Giuliani’s lawyers have defended his conduct.
Another subpoena went to George Chidi, an Atlanta-area journalist who discovered a meeting in the State Capitol on Dec. 14, 2020, of 16 Republicans who tried to cast bogus Electoral College votes for Mr. Trump, even though his defeat in Georgia had already been recertified. Mr. Chidi says that he was falsely told by someone at the meeting that it concerned “education,” and that he was kicked out.
Because he was “lied to and thrown out,” Mr. Chidi wrote this week in The Intercept, “it confirmed that the legislators were acting in secret, that they didn’t want the press or public to know what they were doing.”
The 16 Republicans were also named as targets; as of May, more than half of them had taken immunity deals. Their meeting is likely to be an element of an alleged corrupt scheme that prosecutors will describe for grand jurors if they seek racketeering charges.
Both Ms. Jordan and Mr. Chidi have already appeared before a separate “special purpose” grand jury that investigated the election meddling efforts in Georgia but lacked indictment power. That panel’s recommendations have largely been kept secret, although the forewoman strongly hinted in an interview that the recommendations included indicting Mr. Trump, among others.
Mr. Chidi, in an interview, said he was concerned about prosecutors making “a habit” of subpoenaing reporters. In his article for The Intercept, he said he would probably testify, because he was given assurances that he would be asked only questions relating to what he saw that day.
As indictments have drawn closer in recent weeks, lawyers for Mr. Trump, along with the state’s Republican Party, have become more aggressive in pushing back against the investigation. A state party-created website likens news coverage of the bogus Trump electors to stories about Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster.
Last month, the State Supreme Court unanimously rejected a long-shot attempt by the Trump legal team to scuttle the investigation ahead of indictments. And on Monday, the presiding judge in Superior Court, Robert C.I. McBurney, suggested that Mr. Trump’s lawyers were gumming up the legal process with frivolous filings, and encouraged them to follow professional standards “before burdening other courts with unnecessary and unfounded legal filings.”
Mr. Trump has taken personal shots at Ms. Willis, saying she was a “racist” and calling for street demonstrations if he is indicted.
Over the weekend, Ms. Willis, who is Black, forwarded an offensive email she recently received to a number of local officials. She called the email, which referred to her with an inflammatory and racist epithet, as “pretty typical and what I have come to expect,” adding, “I am sending to you in case you are unclear on what I and my staff have come accustomed to over the last two and a half years. I guess I am sending this as a reminder that you should stay alert over the month of August and stay safe.”
In a reply, the county’s solicitor general, Keith E. Gammage, wrote that he was “deeply offended” and that the email was “meant to threaten, harass and intimidate, not just you, but all of us.”