Special Grand Jury to Be Seated in Georgia Election Inquiry

Fulton County's Fani Willis is investigating whether Trump, others tried to interfere
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 20, 2022 12:25 PM CST
Updated Jan 25, 2022 12:00 AM CST
Georgia DA Requests Special Grand Jury in Election Inquiry
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis poses for a photo at her office in Atlanta.   (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

(Newser) Update: Judges have approved a request for a special grand jury by the Georgia prosecutor who's investigating whether former President Donald Trump and others broke the law by trying to pressure Georgia officials to throw out Joe Biden's presidential election victory, the AP reports. The special grand jury is to be seated May 2 for a period of up to a year, the chief judge's order says. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney is assigned to supervise and assist the special grand jury. Our original story from Thursday follows:

The Georgia prosecutor investigating possible attempts to interfere in the 2020 general election by former President Trump and others has asked for a special grand jury to aid the investigation, per the AP. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis on Thursday sent a letter to Fulton County Superior Court Chief Judge Christopher Brasher asking him to impanel a special grand jury. She wrote in the letter that her office “has received information indicating a reasonable probability that the State of Georgia's administration of elections in 2020, including the State's election of the President of the United States, was subject to possible criminal disruptions.”

Willis' office has tried to interview multiple witnesses and gather evidence, and some witnesses and prospective witnesses have refused to cooperate without a subpoena, she wrote. A special grand jury would have the power to subpoena witnesses. Willis has declined to speak about the specifics of her investigation, but in an interview with the AP earlier this month she confirmed that its scope includes—but is not limited to—a Jan. 2, 2021, phone call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger; a November 2020 phone call between Sen. Lindsey Graham and Raffensperger; the abrupt resignation of the US attorney in Atlanta on Jan. 4, 2021; and comments made during December 2020 Georgia legislative committee hearings on the election.

Special grand juries, which are not used often in Georgia, can help in the investigation of complex matters. They do not have the power to return an indictment but can make recommendations on criminal prosecutions. Willis said the special grand jury is needed because it can serve a term longer than a normal grand jury term. It would also be able to focus on this investigation alone, allowing it to focus on the complex facts and circumstances. And having a special grand jury would mean that the regular seated grand jury wouldn't have to deal with this investigation in addition to their regular duties, she wrote.

(Read more Election 2020 stories.)

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