A special grand jury that was examining efforts by then-President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn their loss in the 2020 election in Georgia has stated that it believes “one or more witnesses” committed perjury and has encouraged local prosecutors to seek charges in the case.
According to excerpts of the special grand jury’s final findings that were made public on Thursday, the district attorney for Fulton County, Fani Willis, should “pursue appropriate indictments for such crimes when the evidence is strong.”
These parts remain quiet on critical data, such as who the panel believes committed perjury and what further particular charges should be brought as a result of the investigation. On the other hand, this represents the very first time that the grand jury’ recommendations for criminal charges connected to the case have been made public.
And it serves as a reminder of the mounting legal obstacles that the former president is going to have to face as he steps up his campaign for the White House for the third time in the midst of various court probes. There is also an inquiry being conducted by the Department of Justice into whether or not Trump unlawfully held classified information at his Florida resort.
Since the former president did not provide any testimony in front of the special grand jury, he cannot be counted among those who have the potential to have committed perjury. However, the report does not rule out the potential of additional charges being brought, and the investigation continues to provide unique difficulties for Trump, in part because his activities in Georgia were broadcast to the public.
Trump and his allies made unproven claims of widespread voter fraud and criticized Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp for not taking action to overturn Trump’s narrow loss to Vice President Joe Biden in the state. Biden won Georgia by a margin of less than 3,000 votes.
Since the beginning of the investigation two years ago, Willis has stated that she was interested in a phone call that took place on January 2, 2021, in which Trump suggested to Raffensperger that he could “find” the votes necessary to overturn his loss in the state. Willis was specifically interested in this call.
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“All I want to do is this: I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,” Trump said during that call. “Because we won the state.”
Trump has said many times that his call with Raffensperger was “perfect,” and he told The Associated Press last month that he was “very confident” that he would not be indicted. In a statement released on Thursday, he said, “I did nothing wrong.”
In fact, he said on his social media platform, Truth Social, that the release gave him “total exoneration,” even though it didn’t do that and parts of it that have to do with recommended charges are still secret.
State and federal officials, including Trump’s attorney general, have always said the election was safe and there was no evidence of major fraud. After hearing “extensive testimony on the issue,” the special grand jury voted unanimously that there was no widespread fraud in Georgia’s election.
Willis asked for a grand jury to help her with her investigation. It was put together in May, and its report was given to Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney on December 15. The panel has no power to bring charges against people. Instead, the report has suggestions for Willis, who will decide whether or not to ask a regular grand jury to bring one or more charges.
Over the course of about seven months, 75 witnesses, including Trump allies like former New York mayor and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, testified before the special grand jury. Raffensperger and Kemp, two of the most important people in Georgia, were also there.
Graham told reporters on Thursday that no one from the government has talked to him about his testimony. “I’m sure I gave an open and honest testimony,” he said.
McBurney, who was in charge of the special grand jury, gave the order for the report to be released in parts on Monday. During a hearing last month, prosecutors asked him not to release the report until they decided on charges, while a group of media outlets, including the AP, pushed for the whole report to be made public right away.
McBurney said in his order on Monday that the full report shouldn’t be released yet because it’s important to protect the rights to due process of people against whom the grand jury recommended charges.
Even though Thursday’s release didn’t have a lot of details, it did give some information about how the panel works. In the beginning of the report, it says that “the overwhelming majority” of the information the grand jury got was “given in person under oath.” It also said that none of the panelists were experts in election law or criminal law.
From the people who testified before the special grand jury, it’s clear that Willis is interested in more than one thing. Among them are:
After the 2020 election, Trump and other people called Georgia officials.
A group of 16 Georgia Republicans signed a certificate in December 2020 that said Trump had won the state and that they were the “duly elected and qualified” electors for the state. This was not true.
- — In December 2020, state legislators will meet at the Georgia Capitol and make false claims of election fraud.
- — A computer forensics team hired by Trump supporters copied data and software from voting machines in Coffee County, which is in a rural area.
- — There were supposedly attempts to get Ruby Freeman, a Fulton County elections worker, to falsely confess to election fraud.
- — The U.S. attorney in Atlanta quits on short notice in January 2021.
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