ATLANTA (AP) — A Georgia attorney investigating possible interference in the 2020 general election by former President Donald Trump and others has asked for a special grand jury to be created to assist in the investigation.
Fulton County District Attorney Fanny Willis on Thursday sent a letter to Fulton County Chief Justice Christopher Brasher asking him to form a special grand jury. In the letter, she wrote that her office “has received information indicating a reasonable likelihood that the administration of the 2020 Georgia State elections, including elections in the state of the President of the United States, has been subject to possible criminal violations.”
Willis declined to talk about the details of her investigation, but she confirmed in an interview with The Associated Press earlier this month that its scope includes, but is not limited to, a phone call between Trump and the Georgia Secretary of State on January 2, 2021. State Brad Raffensperger, the November 2020 phone call between US Senator Lindsey Graham and Raffensperger, the sudden resignation of the US Attorney in Atlanta on January 4, 2021, and comments made during the December 2020 Georgia Legislative Committee hearing on the election.
Trump’s spokesman previously called the investigation a politically motivated “witch hunt.” Graham also denies any wrongdoing.
Willis’ office tried to interview several witnesses and gather evidence, but some witnesses and alleged witnesses refused to cooperate without a subpoena, she wrote in a letter to Brasher. For example, Willis wrote in a letter that Georgia Secretary of State Brad Ruffensperger, whom she calls a “material witness,” “indicates that he will not participate in questioning or otherwise testify until my office provides him with a subpoena.” “. A special grand jury will have the right to call witnesses in court.
Raffensperger’s office did not immediately respond to an email Thursday asking if he would withdraw without a subpoena.
Special grand juries, which are rarely used in Georgia, can help solve complex cases. They do not have the power to bring an indictment, but they can advise prosecutors on prosecutions.
Willis said that a special grand jury was needed because it could serve longer than a regular grand jury term. He will also be able to focus only on this investigation, allowing him to focus on complex facts and circumstances. And having a dedicated grand jury would mean that a regular grand jury would not have to deal with this investigation in addition to their normal duties, Willis wrote.
Willis, who took office in January 2021, sent letters to Georgia’s top elected officials in February directing them to keep any records related to the general election, especially any evidence of attempts to influence election officials. The investigation includes “possible violations of Georgian law prohibiting incitement to electoral fraud, making false statements to state and local authorities, collusion, racketeering, breach of oath, and any involvement in violence or threats related to election administration,” the letters said.
In her letter to Brasher, Willis said her office had learned that people who may have been trying to influence the Georgia election were in contact with the secretary of state, the state’s attorney general and the U.S. attorney’s office in Atlanta. This means that her office is the only one who has the right to investigate these cases and is not a potential witness.