- A local Georgia prosecutor is moving forward with her investigation of Donald Trump.
- Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis wants a special grand jury to assist her probe.
- Willis says that some key witnesses need to be subpoenaed in order to compel their cooperation.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has requested that a special grand jury be formed to help with her office’s probe into former President Donald Trump’s efforts to pressure Georgia officials following the 2020 election, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Willis wrote in a letter to a local judge that her investigation has found “reasonable probability” that Georgia’s 2020 elections were subject to “possible criminal disruptions.”
Her office is the best placed to investigate what happened since the pressure campaign by Trump and his allies touched virtually every other level of state and federal government, leaving the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office as the only one “that is not a potential witness to conduct related to this matter,” she added.
A special grand jury would have subpoena power — something Willis says is needed to compel the cooperation of witnesses and to assist in gathering additional evidence. According to Willis, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger won’t cooperate with her investigation unless he is subpoenaed. Trump famously pressured Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes,” the margin he needed to win the state.
Trump released a statement calling Willis’ investigation a “political witch hunt,” and repeating his long-held defense that his call to Raffensperger was “perfect.”
“My phone call to the Secretary of State of Georgia was perfect, perhaps even more so than my call with the Ukrainian President, if that’s possible,” Trump said in a statement released by his political PAC, adding that the special grand jury should instead be focusing on widely debunked claims of large scale fraud in Georgia.
Georgia’s 2020 election results were audited multiple times. Cobb County went through an additional signature matching audit, which found a “99.99% accuracy rate in performing correct signature verification procedures.”
Trump’s reference to a “perfect” call is a nod to his defense during his first impeachment trial that he did nothing wrong when he asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to “do us a favor” by investigating debunked claims about the 2016 presidential election. Trump also asked Zelensky to “look into” disputed claims about Hunter Biden, a request that came when Joe Biden was expected to be Trump’s most serious challenger for the presidency.
Anthony Michael Kreis, a law professor at Georgia State University College of Law, told Insider that Trump’s recent statement still raises questions about whether something “unlawful” occurred during the phone call.
“We all know that there’s a substantial amount of evidence out there in the public domain, which suggests that there might have been something unlawful that occurred,” Kreis said.
Earlier this month, Willis told the Associated Press that her decision on whether or not to formally charge Trump could come as early as the first half of this year.
Former associates of Willis previously told Insider that a spike in crimes and a backlog in cases could make it difficult for Willis to juggle an investigation of the former president’s actions with her office’s day-to-day business.
Willis’ request must be approved by a majority of the county’s superior court judges. Special grand juries like the one Willis has requested are rarely used in the state, per The Journal-Constitution. If approved, the grand jurors would not be able to issue indictments.
Michael Moore, an Obama-era former US attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, told Insider that the probe’s escalation could be a concern for Trump.
“Anytime you see an investigation take a step forward, people who have something to hide probably start to get a little nervous,” he said. “This is probably about seeing what testimony she can get from people and what evidence she can use.”