Court approves special grand jury in Trump election probe

A Georgia district attorney’s request to convene a special grand jury was approved Monday as part of the criminal investigation into former President Donald J. Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election results in the state.

Fani T. Willis, an Atlanta prosecutor, asked the grand jury last week after key witnesses identified by investigators refused to voluntarily cooperate. The appointment of a grand jury – which could issue subpoenas – is the next step in an investigation that legal experts say is potentially threatening to the former president.

“The special grand jury shall be authorized to investigate all facts and circumstances relating directly or indirectly to the alleged violations of the laws of the State of Georgia,” said the order of approval, signed by Judge Christopher S. Brasher. Chief of Fulton County Superior Court.

The grand jury would begin its work on May 2 and would continue it “for a period not exceeding 12 months”, specifies the order.

Legal experts have been monitoring the Georgia case for months and say the former president’s criminal exposure could include racketeering or conspiracy charges. It is the only known criminal case that focuses directly on Mr. Trump’s efforts to nullify the election.

Politically, the case unfolds in a state that has played a pivotal role in President Biden’s journey to the White House. Mr. Biden became the first Democrat since 1992 to win Georgia’s electoral votes in 2020. The actions of Mr. Trump and his allies in the two months since Mr. Biden’s victory have been at the center of Ms. Willis’ criminal investigation.

After Mr. Trump’s electoral defeat — and before Georgia held two Senate elections in January — Mr. Trump began publicly challenging election results in states he lost, including Georgia. On January 2, he called Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state, and asked him to “find 11,780 votes” – the margin by which Mr Trump lost the state.

The call sparked a firestorm that continues to have political and legal ramifications. Mr Trump, who remains the most influential figure in the Republican Party and is a likely candidate for president in 2024, has previously said his call with Mr Raffensperger was “perfect”.

The former president has had legal troubles before, including investigations into his businesses and finances, and is the only president to have been impeached twice. He has previously dismissed other investigations as politically motivated. Ms. Willis, the Atlanta district attorney, is a Democrat

The Georgia case is one of several criminal, civil and congressional investigations focused on Mr. Trump. A Democratic-led congressional inquiry into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol recently won a victory in the Supreme Court, which will allow it to obtain the White House records.

Two major investigations are underway in New York. One is a Manhattan prosecutor’s criminal investigation into Mr. Trump’s financial dealings. The other is at the state level: Attorney General Letitia James is leading a civil investigation into Mr. Trump’s business practices. Ms. James recently issued subpoenas for interviews with two of Mr. Trump’s adult children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr., and her office previously interviewed a third, Eric Trump.

Representatives for Mr. Trump did not respond to a request for comment.

In Georgia, if Ms. Willis were to win a conviction, it would have to survive review by state appellate courts. The courts are controlled by appointed Republicans.

About Charles D. Goolsby

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