ATLANTA (AP) — A special Atlanta grand jury investigating whether then-President Donald Trump and his allies committed any crimes in an attempt to overturn his 2020 election loss in Georgia has completed its work, bringing the case closer to possible criminal charges. against Trump and others.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, who oversaw the jury, issued a two-page order Monday to dissolve the special grand jury, saying it had completed its work and submitted its final report. The lengthy investigation was one of several across the country that threaten Trump with legal jeopardy as he makes a third bid for the White House.
The decision on whether to request a regular grand jury indictment will be up to Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. Willis spokesman Jeff DiSantis said the office had no comment on the completion of the panel’s work.
In his order, McBurney wrote that the special grand jury recommended that its report be made public. He scheduled a hearing for Jan. 24 to decide whether all or part of the report should be released, and said the district attorney’s office and news outlets would get an opportunity to make arguments at that hearing.
Since June, a special grand jury has heard testimony from dozens of witnesses, including many close Trump associates such as former New York mayor and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Various high-ranking Georgia officials also testified, including Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
Last month, the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 uprising alleged in its final report that Trump criminally engaged in a “multi-part conspiracy” to overturn the legal results of the 2020 presidential election and failed to act to stop his supporters. before the attack on the Capitol. The report concluded an extraordinary 18-month investigation into the former president and the violent attack.
Special grand juries in Georgia cannot issue indictments, but instead can issue a final report recommending action to be taken.
Willis opened the investigation in early 2021, shortly after a tape of a January 2, 2021, phone call between Trump and Raffensperger surfaced. During the call, the president suggested that the state’s top election official “find” the votes needed to overturn his loss in the state.
“I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,” Trump said, “because we won the state.”
Since then, it’s clear that Willis is focused on several different areas: the phone calls Trump and his allies made to Georgia officials; false statements by Trump associates before Georgia legislative committees; a panel of 16 Republicans who signed a certificate falsely stating that Trump had won the state and that they were “duly elected and qualified” electors of the state; the sudden resignation of the U.S. attorney in Atlanta in January 2021; alleged attempts to pressure a Fulton County election worker; and election equipment violations in a rural south Georgia county.
Giuliani’s lawyers confirmed in August that prosecutors had told them he could face criminal charges in the case. Sixteen Republican fraudulent voters were also told they were the target of the investigation, according to public court filings. It is possible that others have also been informed that they are the target of the investigation.
Trump and his allies have consistently denied any wrongdoing, with the former president repeatedly calling his call with Raffensperger “perfect” and dismissing the Willis investigation as a “strictly political witch hunt!”
Willis took the unusual step in January 2022 of requesting that a special grand jury be empaneled to assist in the investigation. She noted that a special grand jury would have subpoena power to help compel testimony from witnesses who would otherwise be unwilling to participate in the investigation.
In a letter asking the court to impanel a special grand jury, Willis wrote that her office had received information indicating a “reasonable likelihood” that Georgia’s 2020 election, including the presidential race, “has been subject to possible criminal interference.” Her request was granted and a special grand jury convened in May.
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