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Special grand jury can probe Trump’s election antics in Georgia

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Donald Trump and Fulton County Attorney Fani Willis

A judge has cleared a plan to appoint a special grand jury to investigate former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn Georgia’s 2020 presidential election results, days after the county’s chief prosecutor told him. the state’s most populous requested the survey.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) made his request in a two-page letter to Superior Court Chief Justice Christopher S. Brasher last Thursday.

Please note that the District Attorney’s Office has received information indicating a reasonable likelihood that the administration of the 2020 State of Georgia elections, including the election for President of the United States, has been subject to ‘possible criminal disturbances,’ Willis wrote in a letter. dated January 20.

As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported, Brasher gave him the go-ahead on Monday to appoint a special grand jury “for a period not to exceed 12 months.”

“This period does not include periods during which the supervising judge determines that the special purpose grand jury cannot meet for security or other reasons, nor periods during which normal court operations are suspended by order of the Georgia Supreme Court or Chief Justice of the Superior Court,” the order, released by AJC, reads. “The special grand jury is authorized to investigate all facts and circumstances relating directly or indirectly to alleged violations of laws of the State of Georgia.”

The special grand jury can investigate Trump’s infamous phone call urging Georgian Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) to find 11,780 votes, but it would not have the power to return an indictment.

“Such authorization shall include the investigation of any overt act or underlying act related to the subject matter of the special purpose grand juries’ investigative purpose,” Brasher’s order said.

Although Trump has tried to overthrow the 2020 presidential election through various methods in several states, Georgia is where his quest has become most focused. Trump’s phone call with Raffensperger, since published by The Washington Post, laid bare the then lame duck president’s campaign to pressure an election official to “find” the precise number of votes for ahead of Joe Biden.

Trump also warned Raffensperger that it would be a big risk for you and very dangerous to insist that there was no criminality in Georgia’s election administration, comments widely described as an attempt to intimidation.

In the same call, Trump called then-US attorney Byung BJay Pak a “never Trumper” and ousted him days later. Pak later told the Senate that Trump would have fired him had he not resigned. Paks’ replacement, Bobby Christine, previously of the Northern District of Georgia, has resigned.

Willis cited Trump’s interference with various prosecutors’ offices as why she should lead the investigation.

Our office has also learned that individuals associated with these disruptions have contacted other agencies with authority to investigate this matter, including the Georgia Secretary of State, Georgia Attorney General, and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia, leaving that office as the only relevant agency that is not a potential witness to conduct related to the case, she wrote.

According to the letter, Raffensperger, a key witness to the investigation, indicated in an interview with “Meet the Press” that he would not voluntarily accept an interview or provide evidence without a subpoena.

While the special grand jury can recommend charges against Trump, it cannot return an indictment and experts disagree on the viability of any potential case. The Brookings Institute has reviewed a variety of possible charges Trump could face, ranging from misdemeanors such as breach of official duty to crimes such as election interference and the Georgias Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.

“Certainly the RICO laws were enacted with organized crime in mind, but over the past half century, federal and state RICO laws have been used more broadly to target criminal enterprises engaged in criminal behavior,” says the 114-page report. . “As we’ve described above, Trump’s multifaceted and sustained efforts to overturn Georgia’s election count and certification may include a host of distinct state crimes.”

Atlanta-based defense attorney Andrew Fleischman, who works for Ross & Pines, LLC, told Law&Crime, threw cold water on that analysis, saying a special grand jury felt an attempt to delay what would be a difficult pursuit to face. the first amendment.

If you try to maintain a politically advantageous investigative process for as long as possible without indictment, that’s what you would do, Fleischman said.

(Photo by Trump via Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images/ Photo by Willis via screenshot from video on AD website)

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