An Atlanta-area prosecutor investigating former President Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia has been permitted to seat a special grand jury this spring to aid in her probe.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis requested last week to seat a special grand jury in the investigation starting May 2. The request was approved by Fulton County Superior Court judges on Monday, according to an order by Chief Judge Christopher Brasher that was first reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and confirmed by CNN and The Washington Post.
“The special purpose grand jury shall be authorized to investigate any and all facts and circumstances relating directly or indirectly to alleged violations of the laws of the State of Georgia, as set forth in the request of the District Attorney referenced hereinabove,” Brasher wrote. “The special purpose grand jury [will make] recommendations concerning criminal prosecution as it shall see fit.”
The special grand jury, which Brasher said will “not exceed 12 months,” means Willis can seat a panel focused solely on gathering evidence in the Trump investigation, allowing Willis to issue subpoenas for witness testimony. The Democratic prosecutor told The Associated Press earlier this month that she expects to decide whether to bring charges against the former president in the first half of this year.
In a letter last week, Willis told Brasher that she needed a special grand jury for her probe launched nearly a year ago because a “significant number of witnesses and prospective witnesses have refused to cooperate with the investigation absent a subpoena requiring their testimony.”
One of the witnesses she cites is Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who certified Democrat Joe Biden’s win in Georgia. Willis has previously said that part of her investigation focuses on Trump’s infamous Jan. 2, 2021, phone call with Raffensperger in which the then-president urged the Republican state official to “find” the votes necessary to beat Biden in the battleground state and overturn the election. Raffensperger refused.
Last week, Trump released a statement claiming he “didn’t say anything wrong” in his “perfect” call to Raffensperger, and he repeated false claims of widespread voter fraud. The former president has rallied his base around the lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him, particularly in Georgia, where Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the state since Bill Clinton in 1992. Georgia has gone through three ballot counts and multiple investigations only to find no evidence of a coordinated voter fraud.
“All I want to do is this: I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state,” Trump told the secretary of state in the phone call last year.
In an October interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Raffensperger indicated that he will cooperate with Willis’ investigation only if she presents him with a subpoena.
“If she wants to interview me, there’s a process for that, and I will gladly participate in that because I want to make sure that I follow the law, follow the Constitution,” he told host Chuck Todd. “And when you get a grand jury summons, you respond to it.”
According to the Journal-Constitution, Willis is also looking into the abrupt resignation of former Atlanta-based U.S. Attorney Byung Jin “BJay” Pak; a phone call Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) made to Raffensperger in November 2020; and false claims made by Rudy Giuliani during a hearing before the Georgia Senate Judiciary Committee.