In the next weeks, a Georgia prosecutor looking into efforts by Donald Trump and his friends to overturn the former president’s 2020 election defeat is set to seek a grand jury indictment.
More over two years ago, after a recording of a call between Trump and Georgia’s secretary of state in January 2021 was made public, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis opened an investigation.
According to Willis’s hints, any indictment would be handed down between July 31 and August 18. The case will likely go before one of two grand juries that were sworn in on July 11.
Trump already faces multiple legal issues during his presidential campaign, and an indictment by a grand jury in Georgia would only add to the pile. In March, a New York state court will hear
Trump’s case about hush money payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign. And a second trial on federal charges linked to his handling of secret documents is set to begin in May. In those proceedings, he has entered not guilty pleas.
Trump’s efforts to delay the certification of 2020 election results in the days leading up to the assault on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 are also being looked into by the Justice Department.
Trump claims to have been informed that he is under scrutiny in this investigation, which he believes may share some similarities with the Georgia probe.
Information that has leaked out about the Georgia inquiry has fueled rumors that Willis is preparing a case under the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, which would allow her to accuse multiple persons in a potentially massive plot.
Here are the six lines of inquiry that Willis’s team has pursued thus far:
The call Trump placed to Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, on January 2, 2021, is what started the probe in that state. To help him win the state over Democrat Joe Biden, Trump recommended the state’s top elections officer assist him get voters.
On the leaked recording of the call, Trump can be heard saying, “All I want to do is this: I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have.” Since we took the state with ease.
Trump has frequently claimed that the call was flawless and argued that he did nothing wrong.
Trump reached out to other high-ranking state officials in his effort to reverse his 2020 election loss, including Governor Brian Kemp, then-House Speaker David Ralston, Attorney General Chris Carr, and the head investigator for the Secretary of State’s Office.
Republican US Senator from South Carolina Lindsey Graham also contacted Raffensperger soon after the election in November. Graham reportedly asked Raffensperger if he could reject certain absentee ballots, which Raffensperger took to mean that Graham was suggesting they throw out votes that had already been properly cast.
Graham claims he was only curious about the signature verification process and has therefore done nothing illegal.
Biden narrowly won the state of Georgia by a little over 12,000. Georgia’s 16 Democratic electors convened in the Senate chamber on December 14, 2020, just over a month after the election, to cast their ballots for him in the Electoral College. A paper ballot was marked by each voter, and the total was validated by a spoken roll call.
On the same day, 16 prominent Georgia Republicans, including a lawmaker, activists, and party officials, convened in a committee meeting room in the Capitol to sign a certificate falsely stating that Trump had won and declaring themselves the state’s legitimately elected and qualified electors. They forwarded the certificate to the US Senate and the National Archives.
Trump lost seven swing states, including Georgia, where Republican phony electors signed and submitted certificates with identical wording. During a joint session of Congress, supporters of Trump cited the certificates as evidence to argue against or postpone election certification.
Fulton County prosecutors have stated in court documents that they believe Trump aides coordinated and carried out the plan with state Republicans.
The joint effort by multiple states failed. On January 6, 2021, Trump and his supporters publicly pressured Vice President Mike Pence to introduce the unofficial pro-Trump electors. Pence refused.
In the early hours of January 7, 2021, Congress confirmed Biden’s win after the attack on the US Capitol violently halted the certification process.
Since then, Willis’ team has negotiated immunity agreements with at least eight of the fraudulent electors. A judge ruled last summer that Willis had a conflict of interest and could not bring charges against Lt. Governor Burt Jones.
FALSE CHARGES OF VOTE TAMPERING
At the Georgia Capitol in December 2020, Republican state lawmakers held many hearings to investigate allegations of irregularities in the prior November election. During those gatherings, Trump supporters including former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani asserted, without evidence, that the election had been rigged.
They claimed poll workers at Atlanta’s State Farm Arena, where absentee ballots were being counted, had told observers to leave before producing suitcases full of illegal ballots to be scanned.
Trump’s supporters used arena CCTV footage to back up their claims. After conducting their own investigations, state and federal investigators concluded that there was no proof of electoral fraud at the site.
Some Trump supporters have claimed that thousands of people who were not entitled to vote in Georgia did so nonetheless. These include those who had previously voted in another state, were under the age of 18, or had felony convictions. The office of the secretary of state has disproven those statements.
PRESSURE EFFORT on Election Employee, Alleged
Ruby Freeman and her daughter Wandrea Shaye Moss, two of the election workers shown in the State Farm Arena security video, said they experienced unrelenting online and in-person harassment as a result of the charges made by Trump and his backers.
Last Monday, Giuliani admitted that some of his earlier claims regarding the two election workers were inaccurate.
According to court documents, on January 4, 2021, a woman from Chicago flew to Georgia to meet with Freeman. Prosecutors argued in court files last year that a woman claimed she wanted to help Freeman but then threatened her with jail time and sought to coerce her into making a fake confession of election fraud.
ACCESS GRANTED TO ELECTION MACHINERY
Expense receipts, emails, surveillance footage, and deposition testimony produced in response to subpoenas in a protracted lawsuit reveal that Trump ally attorney Sidney Powell and others hired a computer forensics team to copy data and software on election equipment in Coffee County, about 200 miles southeast of Atlanta.
On January 7, 2021, they paid the county elections office a daylong visit, during which time they were received by the chair of the county Republican Party, who was also a false elector.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is looking into the matter at the request of the secretary of state, who has stated that this amounts to unauthorized access to election equipment.
The following month, two additional men who have been involved in efforts to challenge the 2020 election results also visited Coffee County and spent hours inside.
U.S. ATTORNEY’S OFFICER QUITS
Two days after Trump contacted Raffensperger and one day after a recording of that call was made public, the federal prosecutor in Atlanta, BJay Pak, abruptly resigned. Trump implied that Pak didn’t back him by labeling him a “never-Trumper” during the conversation.
After hearing claims of widespread election fraud from Giuliani and other Trump friends in December 2020, then-US Attorney General William Barr asked Pak to look into the matter. No proof of such fraud was found, according to Pak’s report, who Trump appointed in 2017.
After learning on January 4, 2021, from Department of Justice officials that Trump did not believe enough was being done to investigate allegations of election fraud and wanted Pak gone as US attorney, Pak resigned from his position and testified to the US Senate Judiciary Committee investigating Trump’s post-election actions in August 2021.
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